I was daydreaming during my morning walk, thinking about the new Star Trek series I mentioned in my previous blog entry. I can’t help but think that in the 1960s, fans of the original “Star Trek” watched the show in part because of the promise of a bold, kinder future. People were looking to escape away from the political turmoil of the late 1960s. This is in stark contrast to the “reboot” movies in the Star Trek universe and now the latest series, “Star Trek: Discovery”. All of these new looks into a once familiar universe are based upon strife and war.
My realization today was that we have a generation of young adults coming to age that have known nothing but a United States at war. These young people have known nothing but political strife, chaos, threats, and terrorism their entire lives. Entertainment, in an effort to connect to the young average viewer, is now honing in on all of this war. They’re entertaining us with the very turmoil that we should be trying to escape from.
What a very sad state of affairs.
When I think about the future I see bright colors. I hear articulate phrases. I hope for harmony. I hope for peace. Our “entertainment” doesn’t show that universe and I fear it’s because it’s not what people want anymore. I worry that a generation of Americans that have known nothing but war will always seek out war.
Peace seems further away than it ever has before.
So Earl and I watched the first two episodes of “Star Trek: Discovery” this evening. I signed up for the trial of CBS All Access, the streaming service required to see the latest Star Trek television series in the United States, as the series won’t be shown on regular TV and it isn’t available on the other streaming services everyone else uses.
There may be a few spoilers in the rest of this entry, so if you’re interested but haven’t seen the episodes yet, you may want to stop reading now.
You have been warned.
You have been warned.
I’m not going to get into a heavy dialog about the plot details of the first two episodes of the series but rather just make some observations. As a life-long Trekker, I’ve enjoyed every iteration of the Trek franchise, aside from the latest Star Trek Movie. I feel connected to Star Trek. The vibe of Star Trek, especially Star Trek: Next Generation, has always given me hope that someday humanity would find our place amongst the stars.
The first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery take place on the U.S.S. Shenzhou, with Captain Philippa Georgiou, played by Michelle Yeoh. First Officer Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green is at her side. She is Captain Georgiou’s Number One. Her protege. Her friend. I found myself connecting very easily to Captain Georgiou. I liked her commanding style, I liked her balance of ingenuity and diplomacy. As a viewer I found myself invested in the character. I was thinking, “yeah, she’s as cool as Janeway!”.
There were elements of the first two episodes that helped cement that we were in the Star Trek universe. The communicators sounded the same as The Original Series. The doors “whooshed” with the same sound effect. The transporter, when energized, sounded familiar. But the show does fail my Star Trek Transporter Effect test in that the special effects used are very Harry Potter looking. There’s glittering gold and wispy fairy dust going on. It’s illogical that a device used to transporter matter from point A to point Z as an energy beam would have wispy fairy dust sparkling about. How do we not know that wispy pixie dust isn’t part of a toe or an arm or some vital internal organ? It doesn’t go with the rest of the person being beamed in or out. And Federation transporter beams are white, Klingon transporter beams are orange.
And thankfully Discovery opened up with the word “Klingon” on the bottom of the screen because these aliens looked nothing like Klingons. They also sounded nothing like Klingons. They spoke Klingon, at length in episode two, but the Klingons are not the Klingons we’ve known from before. I could live with that, because Captain Georgiou was handling the situation quite well. I found First Office Burnham getting on my nerves by the second episode. She was a little too know-it-all, her upbringing on Vulcan notwithstanding. I just found her grating. I felt no investment in the character.
Then in the last five minutes there’s a huge twist and my investment, or lack thereof, in the characters on the U.S.S. Shenzhou was for naught. In the last five minutes of the show “Star Trek: Discovery” slides into “Star Trek: Millenial Strife” and the screen goes to black. After a few mandatory commercials, because after all, we’re suppose to PAY for CBS: All Access, an extended trailer ensues showing more Millenial Strife with the annoying Michael Burnham, a new ship, a new captain and lots and lots of battle scenes and talk about war.
The most Star Trek moments of the first two episodes: walking on a desert planet learning and discovering, attempts at negotiation, a seemingly true bond between a very capable Captain and her First Officer, are all just part of an extended back story. Episode three is apparently “like watching a new pilot”, per the show runner. The only way you’ll see it is if you absolutely pay for CBS: All Access.
Which I absolutely will not do.
I have no interest in watching a “Star Trek” series loaded up with extended space battles, dark cutaways, and lots and lots of Millenial Strife. It’s not my thing.
I’m sorry, Captain Georgiou, I was really liking the idea of an Asian female captain at the helm of a Federation starship. I wanted to watch you find your groove. I wanted to see where you would boldly go. And I think Michelle Yeoh was the biggest asset to the show to date. Her character was worth my investment.
And that investment has been cashed out.
I wonder how many of these folks carrying on in support of 45’s tirade about taking a knee during the National Anthem would have scolded the Colonialists for taking a stand against the British Monarchy. Tea anyone? Admit it, every one of those free thinkers, you know, the ones that wrote the Declaration of Independence, were not afraid to protest. They took a stand in what they believed in. They were not afraid to think. They were not afraid to go outside of the box. Anyone that scolds that sort of behavior, especially in these extremely divisive times, is at the very least short sighted. This is not about protesting the American flag. Don’t fall for that. That message is part of Trump’s blathering, extremely UNPRESIDENTIAL rhetoric. This is about protesting the narrow-mindedness of what’s going on under this president. If you’re fine with racism, homophobia, unnecessary violence against minorities and prejudice in general, you’re not part of the solution.
When Earl and I first moved into the neighborhood, we were walking home from dinner and noticed a man sleeping under a well-lit railroad bridge. He had a sleeping mat and blankets and all of his belongings arranged a certain way. This was the first time I noticed a person sleeping outside in our neighborhood. He’s the only one I’ve seen thus far. I was concerned for his well-being.
My daily morning walks take me under that bridge and there’s never a trace of the man sleeping under the mattress. If we walk by after dark, he’s there. People walking by maintain a distance. I’ve never seen him harassed. He looks well-fed and relatively groomed/cleaned. Earl and I, like the other passerbys at night, don’t disturb him. But I remain concerned for him.
Last night it was very warm and he was sleeping on top of his comforter arrangement. I’ve seen him out there in 40ºF weather and I’ve now seen him in 85ºF weather. I’m concerned that he’ll still be there trying to sleep at night under the bridge during the cold weather. Being new to the neighborhood, I don’t know what he does during the winter. One night I we were walking by on the opposite side of the street and he was sitting up, arranging his blankets to get comfortable. That’s when I could tell that he seemed to be in fairly good health and had a chance to clean up somewhere.
I know that there are some in our society that simply choose to be homeless. I’ve never seen him on the street during daylight hours. A part of me wants to leave something for him, like a sandwich or bottle of water or something, but I’m hesitant because I don’t want to infringe on his space. That seems to be his territory during the non-daylight hours and he’s obviously sleeping under the light for safety’s sake. Some people have their own deal and just want to be left alone. I certainly don’t want to chase him out of there without another place for him to go. At least the bridge is wide enough that he’s seemingly protected from the elements.
My concern remains. I don’t like seeing folks in our society without the necessities. We should be beyond this by now.
*I was originally going to include a photo taken from halfway up the block last night in this blog entry but decided against it. It seemed to violate the man’s privacy, even though there were no discernible features in the photo, and I want to remain respectful of his space.
With all the problems we have in our own country, the United States doesn’t seem as excited about space exploration as we were when I was kid, or even when the Space Shuttle Program was running. I am thoroughly fascinated by it and I follow many astronauts on Twitter and read up on the International Space Station when I have a few moments.
One of the best vacations Earl and I had together was when we visited the Space Center in Houston. I’ve been watching tours of the International Space Station ever since, here’s one from 2016.
I really think man’s future is in space. I want to see a “Star Trek” (Gene Roddenberry’s vision, not “millennial strife in space”) reality come to fruition.
I hope at least a few of us always remember to reach for the stars.
The pictures I’ve posted of our neighborhood have had a residential look to them. We are surrounded by many streets with beautiful houses, some new, some old, all interesting. This only shows part of the picture, in actuality Earl and I live in an area that has deep industrial roots.
Within two blocks of our home are large industrial buildings once occupied by the Bell and Howell company and by the Manz Printing Company. Many other companies were once located in this area. Several of the buildings have been repurposed into residential living space. There’s also quite a few craft brewing companies and high tech startups in the area.
Our street is bisected by one of the METRA lines that bring commuters in and out of Chicago. The railroad line is elevated, so our neighbors “across the street” are actually across the street, over several tracks and across the street again, yet they are on the same street name with a difference of one house number.
Last weekend Earl and I went to the Art Festival which featured exhibits outside and inside some of the repurposed buildings from the early 20th century. It was a beautiful day and it was awesome to see the inside of these buildings. Great care has been made to bring the buildings to their former glory.
It’s all very encouraging. We could use encouragement these days.
So this weekend we went to the Chicago Expo at Navy Pier. I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy browsing art for the afternoon, but after gazing upon several interesting performance pieces, displays and the like, there was one piece that moved me to tears.
I never thought I would shed a tear over art.
A search on the Internet found this article about the particular piece that helped me find tears.
The gallery’s rear rooms contain videos on nine monitors comprising Scenes from Western Culture (2015), seemingly innocuous slices of contemporary life that range from nineteen minutes to a little over three hours. In one, jazz pianist Jason Moran and mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran dine at Upstairs at 21 in Midtown. Framed by a bland mural of Grand Army Plaza and Bergdorf’s, they enjoy an uneventful dinner with barely audible conversation ranging from music to basketball players to wine. As in all but one video, the camera is stationary, and the film loops with an imperceptible edit. In The Pool, the painter Elizabeth Peyton swims laps for twenty-four minutes; the frame tracks her laterally as in Olympic coverage. Her yipping terrier doggedly follows her progress. In Dog and Clock, a Shetland Sheepdog lies on a rug before a grandfather clock in Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness’s house museum. When the clock oddly strikes at 4:05, she dutifully barks after the fourth chime. In The Boat, a man docks a vessel on a lake, helps a woman out who walks away, then unmoors the craft and putters off-screen, returning a few minutes later with another woman, repeated for over two and a half hours. It is gorgeous and monotonous, although briefly Chaplinesque when he inadvertently falls into the drink. Burning House is a ninety-two minute shot of exactly that, in a Swedish wood, the conflagration seen against dark conifers. Lovers shows the luxury of day sex in an affectionate and explicit scene between a man and woman with interchangeably long hair.
There is something about the composition that moved me.
In addition, when I glanced over there was a young man in a flannel shirt standing by himself looking at the work. He stood with his hands crossed the exact same way that I cross my hands when I am lost in contemplation.
While I thought the afternoon would be spent looking at things I wouldn’t really comprehend, instead I found myself thinking, pondering, and feeling motivated to be creative in my own way.
A wonderful afternoon.