Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I have 18 things to say (an extremely belated concert review)

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Two months ago I saw a concert of Steve Reich and Philip Glass at BAM with my friend Mark (the same Mark with whom I saw Steve Reich at Columbia back in May). The concert opened with Reich's Four Organs followed by a bunch of Glass pieces. Perhaps you can tell I was there for the Reich and not so much the Glass. I ran into another band friend, Steve, who felt the opposite (but this was before the concert).

The entire second act was Music For 18 Musicians. During intermission, I asked Mark how long the piece was, and when he told me it was an hour, I ran to the bathroom. Upon my return, in the remaining minutes before the second act began, I worried that I wouldn't be able to sit still through an hour of repetitive minimalist music. I needn't have worried.

It was two months ago, but I'm going to attempt to share with you 18 thoughts about Music For 18 Musicians:

  1. Sitting up in the balcony was ideal for this piece. The 18 musicians and their instruments (most of which were mallet and keyboard percussion) filled the stage like an orchestra, and watching the movement of the musicians between the instruments was a big part of the experience.
  2. The 18 musicians don't all play constantly, but at one point when everyone on stage was playing I counted, and I SWEAR there were 19 of them.
  3. Having heard the piece before, I assumed the voices were at least a little processed (I thought perhaps a pulse was added), but watching their heads bob in front of the microphones you can see the vocalists are beating out constant rhythms like everyone else.
  4. One of the constants throughout was a pulse on the marimba made by one guy playing on the beat and the other guy doing off-beats. Musicians relieved each other from time to time, but they definitely played for minutes on end. I would never want to be the off-beats guy.
  5. The vibraphone was centrally situated on the stage, representative of its central role in the piece. While everyone else is beating out quarter note pulses and repeating eighth note patterns (assuming the piece is in 6/4), the vibraphone bides its time, and then plays a series of four or five sustained chords or octaves, whereupon the entire ensemble shifts into a new section of the piece. The vibraphone (played by the same person throughout, as I recall) has all the power.
  6. There was a female pianist at upper stage right who was all by herself. Everyone else seemed to be close to at least one other musician except her.
  7. Like any good ensemble, all of the little moving parts combine to create a single machine. The result is a wash of sound that gradually changes, subtlely bringing you along for the ride.
  8. The ensemble performing the piece was Steve Reich and Musicians, a group that has been performing together for nearly fifty years.
  9. There was no conductor! The performance was flawless.
Okay, if I try to keep going this list is going to degrade into things like, "The walls were pretty," and "I was really glad I peed first." Nine is good. That's one thing per two musicians. Next time I won't wait two months before writing the review.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nebraska Lady

After seeing a preponderance of Elsas over the past week, it occurred to me once again that I haven't seen Frozen. Most people's (well, adults') reactions to this are the same: It's not the best Disney animated film, but just watch it. So I figured I'd take advantage of the future in which we live and tell Netflix to play it for me. To my (perhaps unwarranted) surprise, it is not available for streaming, and I discovered it is already in my DVD queue, where it shall stay until I finally watch Nebraska.

Yes, I'm one of the few remaining individuals who has a disc plan. It came in handy when I wanted to watch the first four seasons of The Good Wife, the first two seasons of Girls, and a host of other things only offered on disc. It comes in not-handy (footy?) when the I'm-an-intellectual center of my brain adds something to my queue that my I-just-want-to-laugh-or-cry lobe has no interest in watching when it arrives in my mailbox.

Such is the case with Nebraska. I am embarrassed to tell you how long I've had this Oscar-nominated film in my possession, but since this blog likely has fewer readers than months I've held onto the disc, I'll tell you. I've had it for eight months. Premature children have been conceived and born in the time I've had this disc. This disc has been living in my apartment for almost as long as I have. I moved in, blasted through the fourth season of Good Wife and the first two seasons of Girls in two months, and then in March, Nebraska landed in my mailbox with a clunk. Based on what came before it, perhaps I would have watched it sooner if it had a female word in the title: Nebraska Lady.

Put another way, I have spent $64 on the privilege of having Nebraska in my house. It's not the most inefficient way I've spent money (see Late Fees, ATM Fees, Parking Tickets, Gym Memberships, and One Year's Worth of Ancestry.com), but it's certainly the most recent.

I'd decided to watch Nebraska, but then, in a fit of nerdiness, I decided to see how the length of time I've held on to it measures up to the other times I've done this. I will not bore you with how I accomplished this, but suffice it to say I crashed MS Excel twice. Before Nebraska, the disc I held on to longest was Wanda Sykes: I'ma Be Me. To be clear, I like Wanda Sykes.  I suppose I just wasn't in the mood for stand-up comedy right then, and then not for the ensuing six months. I had The House of Mirth (part of my Gillian Anderson jag) and Annie Hall for four months each. The Last King of Scotland (Gillian again) was mine for three months, and Ray and Pi for two.

Of all of these, Pi was the one I thought about watching the most while I had it. I didn't want to watch it alone, but no one would watch it with me. I ended up watching it on my computer with an AIM chat window open to my friend Kathleen the whole time (she'd seen it, and she kept asking, "Did you get to the part yet?").

I'm going to watch Nebraska now.

Postscript: Please avail yourself of the "Follow By Email" gadget to the right (and up a bit) if you'd like to get an email when I post. It'll give me a hint as to how many people read this, if any. Also, if you have an easier way in which people follow Blogger blogs, or have a way in which you follow mine, leave a comment.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


When we last checked in with Latoya the Hoya, she had seven leaves and was moving in a Greco-Roman direction.  Now, she has more leaves than I am willing to count.

You're so vine.
Plus, she seems to be sprouting a second vine, which should make life, and particularly showers, interesting.

This is an old picture; the new vine now has three leaves, which you can kind of see in the first picture, taken today.
Every once in a while, Latoya will reach a tipping point while I'm in the shower, and the vine will fall and brush against me STARTLINGLY.

I decided to branch out (sorry) and bought a catnip plant.  Obviously its name is Nippy.  It does not live in the shower so obviously it will die soon, but until then it looks happy in its bright orange pot. It was looking a little sad when I watered it on Friday but since then its leaves have perked up.

There is also a tiny piece of Mabel in this picture.
Now you're up to date on the plants.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ikea sighting in the 24th century

As I mentioned in my last post, part of the impetus for watching Star Trek: Voyager was to see the episode where a malfunctioning food replicator says, "Get it yourself."  Seven of Nine might say that watching the entire series was an inefficient method of achieving that goal (as an alternative, I could have just asked Lindsay), but in any case, mission accomplished.  Watching the episode clarified for me that the quote is actually "Make it yourself," and the replicator is not malfunctioning, but acting exactly as the Q who reprogrammed it intended.  I still maintain it is the funniest moment in a very funny series.

Other funny moments:

  • The entire episode where the Doctor inhabits Seven of Nine's body.
  • Janeway to Neelix: "Dismissed.  That's a Federation expression.  It means get out."
  • Most of B'Elanna's bitchiness.
  • Much, much more
I watched the entirety of Voyager in half the time it took me to watch all of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and they are each the same length.  So we'll call it a win for Voyager.

And tell me that's not an Expedit in Tom and B'Elanna's quarters:

The Ikeas in the Delta Quadrant still sell Expedits!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Sassy Replicator

If you are one of the five readers of my blog, you may be wondering what ever happened to my watching of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  Well, I finished the series and immediately began watching Star Trek: Voyager, the favorite Star Trek series of my friend Lindsay.  More on Voyager in a moment, but first, my final thoughts on DS9.

I sum up my feelings on the characters pretty well in this post, but as for the series itself, I must say I really enjoyed it.  I didn't like it as much as TNG, and I'm really loving Voyager, so I can't say DS9 was my favorite, but it has a special place in my heart.  I mentioned in my first post in this blog that a common complaint about DS9 is, "The ship doesn't move!"  While I agree that the series' setting on a space station limits the scope a bit, there's plenty going on and we get to enjoy storylines with the Bajorans, Cardassians, Klingons, Ferengi, even the Romulans in later episodes, and finally, the pretty terrifying Dominion, not to mention all the new species the series introduces via the wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant.  There's also plenty of history on the former Cardassian station that makes for good flashback fodder.  The religious infrastructure of Bajor offered lots of commentary on the separation of church and state and the evolution/intelligent design "debate."  I could have done without the mirror universe, though.

Having lived with Lindsay, I've seen snippets of Voyager here and there.  It was on so frequently in our apartment that our other roommate at the time, Courtney, dubbed the series "Not My Captain," noting that the show did not feature Jean-Luc Picard in the captain's chair.  The nickname caught on, even though Janeway is most definitely Lindsay's captain.

I rarely sat down and watched an entire episode, but two moments I vividly recall are these: (1) Neelix offering snacks to a Borg child and the child replying "Snacks are irrelevant," and (2) the food replicator malfunctioning when Janeway orders coffee and it replies, "Get it yourself!"  I just watched "The Haunting of Deck Twelve" in which the former occurs.  I must tell you, I've been waiting the entire series to hear the sassy replicator.  I'm up to the seventh and final season now, and I'm starting to worry that I may have imagined it.

Having watched six full seasons of Voyager since I last posted about Star Trek, naturally there's a lot to say.  Since this post has already gotten long.  I'll limit it to these observations:

  • There are lots of mind melds on Voyager.
  • Janeway lands the ship on planets a lot.  I didn't know you could do that.
  • Hair grows back pretty quickly.
  • For a Maquis captain, Chakotay (whom I used to call Commander Chipotle) is pretty amenable.
  • I shed no tears when Kes left the series (although Jennifer Lien appears to have gotten a raw deal).  She returns in the sixth season for no apparent reason other than to be an asshole.
That list could go on forever.  More in another post, maybe.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The long, slow jog across 8th Avenue (for example)

Picture this:

You are in a car, waiting at a red light at a major intersection (the street is wide).  As the "Don't walk" sign begins to flash, some adventurous pedestrians break out in a run, launching into the crosswalk and across the street.  As they crest the half-way point, a calm overtakes them.  Perhaps they realize they are going to make it, so they don't have to try so hard.  On the other hand, perhaps they realize that life just isn't worth all this fuss, so they lay their fate down on 8th Avenue (for example), come what may.  In any case, they are still in the crosswalk when the light turns green, blocking your path.

Having watched this phenomenon time and again, I have come to the conclusion that it is all an act.  The run is not really a run, but rather a lethargic jog that that takes them across the street at roughly the speed a walk would.  The jog is not for their benefit, not a life-preserving measure.  Rather, it is a show put on for you, the motorist, who knows the pedestrian will not make it before the light turns green, forcing you to choose between vehicular manslaughter and delaying departure by a few very precious seconds.  Look, the jogging pedestrians say, we're trying!

The other day I found myself approaching an intersection on foot as the "Don't walk" sign began to flash.  I thrust myself into the street thinking, I can make it if I run!  As I neared the curb, the urgency lessened and my gait slowed, and I was a few steps away from the curb when the light changed.  I never felt as though I was in any danger of being run over.  In fact, I didn't regard the motorists at all.  Getting to the other side a few seconds late was good enough for me, and frankly, I was the only one involved.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Nothing ever happens in Blaine, WA

Last week, I traveled to Washington state with my family for a wedding.  I flew into the Seattle area and then journeyed across the Puget Sound to the small, seaside town of Port Townsend, where the wedding took place.  Have a map:

The pink square represents Port Townsend.
Had it been a gay wedding, I might have used a pink triangle.
On our first morning in Port Townsend, the day of the wedding, I was in a coffee shop with my dad and some of his friends.  On the wall above us was a framed map of the Pacific Northwest, stretching from Portland up past the top of Vancouver Island.  I stared at the map for a while, ignoring the conversation around me, and then at some point the conversation shifted to the map.  I pointed out Point Roberts, a tiny piece of the United States cut off from the rest of the country by the international border.  While the US made the concession that the boundary would curve around Vancouver Island leaving it to the British, no one knew at the time (1846) that the Tsawwassen Peninsula dipped below the 49th parallel, and by the time they realized it, it was too late (for bureaucracy, anyway).  I shared that there's no school in Point Roberts, so young residents of the forgotten piece of land commute 70 miles each way to attend classes in the United States.

The pink square remains Port Townsend for reference.
Point Roberts can be seen at the top of this map just below Tsawwassen, Canada.
My dad liked this little piece of trivia and it stayed with him up to the wedding reception, where he found himself sitting next to the uncle of the groom.  I was on the opposite side of the table, so I don't know how it came up, but it turned out the groom's uncle had worked in Point Roberts.  He lived in Blaine, WA, just south of the Canadian border across the bay from the Point, and he'd make the aforementioned 70 mile commute in the opposite direction of the school children.  It was a delightful coincidence that we'd been talking about the place earlier that day, and the serendipity continued when it was revealed that he'd been a postal worker in Point Roberts, and the man sitting on the other side of him (the uncle of the bride) was the brother of the former Postmaster General of the United States.

Blaine being so close to the border (literally flush with it), I asked him if he goes up to Canada often.  He said he hasn't crossed the border since he retired 18 years ago.  I then asked if he makes it down to Seattle on occasion and he said he does so as infrequently as he can manage.  If this makes him sound contrary, I can assure you he was indeed charming.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Case of Gowron Face

Ever have a case of Gowron face?

Play button cross-eyed
I just wanted to take a brief break half-way through the final arc to mention two fun casting things:

  1. I've always loved watching the guest star credits roll over the beginning of the episode.  I loved it in Law & Order and I love it now.  When I was watching "Chimera,"in which Odo meets a long lost Changeling, I noticed that one of the guest stars had the last name Hertzler, which I recognized as the last name of the actor who plays the Klingon character Martok (J.G. Hertzler).  I surmised that Hertzler was playing the Changeling, whose make-up is completely different from a Klingon's, so you really couldn't see any facial resemblance, but you could hear a touch of Martok in the Changeling's voice.  I'd guessed that this Hertzler and J.G. were brothers, but when I read Memory Alpha after the episode, it turned out the same actor plays both characters.  I didn't realize it, but this is something that happens fairly frequently in the Star Trek TV shows, especially with two characters of different species with different face make-up.
  2. I would never have picked this out on my own if I hadn't read it on Memory Alpha, but the same actor (Jeffrey Combs) plays two recurring characters on DS9: Brunt (Ferengi) and Weyoun (Vorta).  I'd gotten to know Jeffrey Combs as the actor who plays Weyoun, and when I one time saw him credited for Brunt I just figured I remembered the name wrong.  Once again the make-up distinguishes them completely, and I still can't detect any similarity in their voices or physical mannerisms.  Combs plays both characters equally well and without a trace of one in the other.  It baffles me further when you see that Brunt towers over the other Ferengi meanwhile Weyoun is usually shorter than the people he shares the screen with.  Combs stands at 5'7", a good height for feeling tall in some situations and short in others (I know it well), but it's still some amazing differentiation.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Embarking on an arc

I'm about to begin the much talked-about (on Memory Alpha) ten-hour, nine-episode arc that ends Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  I already know some things about the way the series ends, since I've been reading the Memory Alpha article on each episode after I watch it, but there's still plenty to discover.

Odo, I think I'll miss you most of all.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Questions posed of kittens

Are you a kitten?
To what do I owe the pleasure?
Are you hungry?
Where's the other one?
Do I have kittens?
I have TWO kittens?
What's YOUR problem?
Do you mind?
What's that smell?
Kitty cats?

Their answers:


Dough Minnie In

If you showed me the word "DOMINION" on a piece of paper and asked me to pronounce it, I'd give you duh-MIN-yin.  Everyone on DS9 seems to really enunciate that first syllable, making it sound almost like its own word: DOUGH-MIN-yun.  You also get some people paying homage to that second "I," sounding like the title of this post: dough minnie in.

I never gave this conscious thought, but when yesterday I had the opportunity to say the word "Dominion" out loud several times (in reference to the game), I found myself pronouncing it like they do on the show (the first one I mentioned, without Minnie), so I guess it sunk in and stored itself somewhere, like an acid flashback.

Can I use treasure to buy ketracel-white?
Dominion's a great game, by the way.  I hadn't played it in years, and I think every time I played it before, it was with experienced gamers, so this was the first time I had to teach the game.  At first the rules seemed hopelessly complex, but once we got into the groove it was really awesome.  You get to say words like "duchy" and "smithy."

I've been very bad about posting, particularly about DS9.  My last DS9 post was in April at which point I was on season three, and now I'm well into the seventh and final season.  OOPS.  Maybe after I finish the series I'll do a huge post (that no one will read) summing up my feelings on the whole thing.  I will say this: I recently watched the baseball episode.  Odo as umpire was adorable, especially him rehearsing in his office.  The linked page has a lot of fun facts about the episode, too, like how Max Grodénchik is actually a talented ball player despite his performance as the non-athletic, clumsy Rom.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Winged Victory

There's an exciting new development in my Hoya plant in the form of the Winged Victory of Samothrace.  Nature imitates art:

Latoya's sixth and seventh leaves can be seen sprouting toward the right side of the picture in something of a V.

My Hoya's parent plant has the decidedly more exciting development of blossoms, but replicas of ancient sculpture will do for now.

Friday, May 16, 2014

TAY-huh-LEEM (a concert review)

Last night, my friend Mark treated me to a concert at Columbia University's Miller Theater.  The concert, which closed out the venue's 25th anniversary season, was third of three in their Bach, Revisited series in which a composer is invited to curate an evening of music, pairing a Bach work with one of their own.  Steve Reich was the illustrious guest last night, and the program featured Bach's fourth cantana, Christ lag in Todes Banden, and Reich's Tehillim.

I've known and loved Tehillim since my college days, when I would use it to drown out the noise in my dorm before going to sleep (minimalism is generally good for that).  The concert put an end to 15 years of speculation as to how the title of the piece is pronounced.  I'd settled on teh-HEE-lum (like "tequila" with a 'h' instead of the q and an /m/ at the end), but Reich removed all doubt when he referred to it as TAY-huh-LEEM.  It will be an adjustment for me, but I never really said it out loud much anyway.

The performing group was Ensemble Signal, which was excellent, and a little funky.  I say "a little" funky because while most of the ensemble was dressed in standard concert black, two of the female singers styled themselves so as to ensure that they were the center of attention (at least during the Bach).  If I attempt to describe their styles I will inevitably sound like a dweeb, so let me just say their hairstyles were edgy and one of them was wearing turquoise eye shadow.

The Bach was beautiful and immaculately performed.  Each verse (of seven) ended with a "hallelujah" text, which provided some connection to the Reich piece later (although the likeness that Reich highlighted in his pre-intermission discussion was the practice of doubling a vocal line with an instrument).  I'd never heard the piece before (or any of the cantatas, that I recall).  I really loved it and I'll be checking out more cantatas (when I have the time).

There was a brief moment of humor/frustration when Steve Reich took the stage for his talk, owing to technical difficulties.  First the director of the theater spoke, and then Reich came out and started speaking but the volume was very low.  I could tell that his voice was being amplified, but he just didn't seem to be speaking loudly enough into the mike.  After trading mikes with a few other people on stage to no avail, the conductor finally gestured that he should move the mike closer to his mouth, and that solved the problem much to the audience's delight and relief.

Whereas the Bach was scored for six strings players, an organ, and four singers, Tehillim added winds and percussion, and consumed the entire stage.  The singers were pushed to the back where you could still see them, but center of attention shifted from them to the physical center of the stage where, a few minutes into the piece, a percussionist rose from his seat and began playing the maracas.  Yes, the maracas were the star of the second half of this program.  The maracas played steady sixteenth (or possibly even thirty-second) notes for most of the first and I think all of the second movements.  He sat out the third movement (rather, he played a different instrument) but was back for the fourth.  I'm afraid I'm not really conveying how impressive this was.  Imagine shaking maracas just about as fast as you can for a solid fifteen minutes, holding that tempo and dynamic for the entire time.  You couldn't do it.  Your arms would fall off or you'd go insane.

I don't want this review to get much longer, so I'll close by saying what an exhilarating experience it was to witness Tehillim live in concert.  A performance of this piece is an amazing feat, considering its rhythmic difficulty alone.  I tried to watch the conductor to get a sense of the meter but I just couldn't keep up.  The singers sing in a round for part of the first movement, but even watching from my seat I still couldn't isolate their voices.  It was amazing, as probably everyone else in the room can agree with the possible exception of one woodwind player who sat there with her arms folded across her chest, alternating between scowling and nodding off.

Steve Reich. Photo credit: Jeffrey Herman, found here.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Three cheers for Odo! He's the best.

It's been three weeks since I posted about DS9, which I guess means I enjoy watching it more than I enjoy writing about it.  Every time I sit down to compose a blog entry, I decide to watch another episode instead.  I guess I can finally admit it: I love Deep Space Nine.

Before I dig into the nitty gritty of season four, I'd like to express how I feel about (and rank) the characters via their character-driven episodes:

  1. Odo has the most interesting story arc without a doubt. He starts the series with no idea where he came from, and when we do discover his people, they turn out to be the most significant adversary to all the other known powers in the galaxy.  Odo episodes are about self discovery, divided loyalties, and isolation.  Also, he's a shapeshifter and that's cool.
  2. Quark (and the other Ferengi) is the comic relief on DS9 (Rom is totally Urkel), so his episodes are usually hilarious. The plainly ridiculous Ferengi customs and culture are juxtaposed on the mundane and serious setting of the space station.  Sometimes Quark is a distraction, but he can definitely carry an episode, and the writers knew it.  He's mostly two-dimensional, either being reprehensible or learning a lesson and turning over a new leaf, but he does have his complex moments.
  3. Kira is a devout follower of the Bajoran religion, but also military/government official working closely with the Federation.  It's always interesting to see how she reacts when Bajor gets a little too wacky (religious fundamentalism) and the Federation a little too... Federationy?  She tends to be the character things happen around, such that Kira episodes are very often about Winn or someone else other than her.
  4. Dax is one of my favorite characters, but for some reason I don't love Dax episodes.  Like Kira, Dax is best when reacting to other people.  Dax has great one-liners, and she's a good shoulder to cry on, but when the spotlight is on her, it's just not DS9's best.
  5. Sisko likes baseball, cooking, and emissarying, but even more than emissarying he likes not emissarying.  He's got a great captain voice and he can rock a diatribe or two, but he's no Picard.
  6. O'Brien is ornery, so episodes that focus on him can be kind of trying.  They play with his brain a lot (O'Brien's a clone of himself!  O'Brien shifts through time!  O'Brien went to prison but not really!) I guess because they don't know what else to do with a grumpy Irish engineer.  I like Keiko, but she's absent most of the time.
  7. Bashir, just stop.
I didn't include Jake in the above ranking because I just don't care.  I didn't include Garak because he's not in the main cast, but if I did I think he'd be between Odo and Quark.

I promise I won't start season five until I post about season four.

Five Alive

Let us now turn our attention to this plant:

When last we visited my green friend, I was excited to report it had sprouted a third leaf, its first new one since I rooted and planted it.  The plant now boasts five leaves, plus a promising looking shoot.  The three big guys were clearly demonstrating their love for the sun, so I turned the plant hoping to balance things out.  I appear to have confused one of the new leaves, visible slightly right of the center of this photo and looking like an apostrophe.  The other new guy can be seen hiding in the shadow of the bottom-most big leaf, also facing away from the window.  Peer pressure abounds even in the flora community.

Plant dad and clever sculptor Willy informed me this weekend that the plant is a Hoya.  This news inspires such possible plant names as Latoya, Gioia, and Inigo Montoya.  But let's not pretend; obviously the plant's name is now Latoya.

I was glad to discover upon reading this page that Latoya's success could be at least partially attributed to my placement of her in my north(east)-facing bathroom window.  I've also been unwittingly treating her as she likes to be treated, as the page says Hoyas "resent pampering," and I pretty much leave her to her own devices.

Go Latoya, go!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Sisko's Facial Hair

I just did a Google image search for "Benjamin Sisko with facial hair."  The results are not stunning.  There's a lot of Sisko scowling with facial hair, and at least one featuring facial hair and crazy eyes, but all the nice shots are of shorn Sisko.  You'll just have to trust me that, on video, the facial hair is an improvement.

And what's the first thing he does with his facial hair?  He builds a sailboat.

or a space moth

When I told my dad, a Star Trek fan from ToS through the present, that I was watching DS9 from beginning to end, he asked me, "Does Sisko have the girlfriend yet?"  At the time he didn't, but that's another milestone we reach in the latter part of season three: Kasidy Yates.  She makes precisely one appearance, so I guess she becomes a bigger deal later.

A more significant milestone to me is the first utterance of the phrase, "No changeling has has ever harmed another," which occurs in "Heart of Stone."  When I heard that, I was like, now we're getting somewhere.

I just finished watching the season three finale, which was an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.  An evil changeling is loose on the Defiant and he's better at impersonating humanoids than Odo, down to the MOLECULAR EFFING LEVEL.  The tricorders are none the wiser.  So you can imagine this is terrifying and nobody can trust anybody, and YES it of course made me think of the Battlestar Galactica reboot.  This is the benefit of watching these twenty years later.  Instead of saying, "Oh that's been done before," I'm saying, "Oh that was done again, later!"

Just three more things before I go:
  1. Andrea Martin plays a Ferengi in the third season.  And of course she rocks it.
  2. I love how every once in a while the entire cast goes off on an adventure.  Who's watching the station?
  3. This quote from the season finale, in which O'Brien comes up with a way to regain control of the ship.
    Computer: Auto destruct in seven minutes.
    Sisko: Just tell me how long it will take.
    O'Brien: Well I guess it'll have to be less than seven minutes, won't it?
Next stop, season four!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bashir's Brain

I was never in the habit of watching Deep Space Nine when it was airing for the first time, but all of the episodes I caught here and there were from the later seasons.  I just watched "Heart of Stone" in which Kira is trapped in a rock fissure on a moon and Odo must figure out a way to save her.  Since I started rewatching the series, this is the first episode I remember watching previously.  There is also a scene in the following episode, "Destiny," that I recall.

In other milestones, I've also watched the most boring episode of DS9 to date: "Distant Voices." This episode takes place entirely inside Bashir's brain, so there you go.

Some quotes from recent episodes that I enjoyed:

Odo: Well that's an interesting way of scrambling a signal.
Garak: Yes, I thought you might appreciate it on an aesthetic level.

Wormhole Alien (in the form of Kira): Linguistic communication is ... exhausting.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Three bits of three

Mabel joins me for a second season episode of DS9 entitled, "The Wire"

Since I last posted, I've busted into the third season of DS9.  We've got Jem'Hadar, we've got Founders, we've got the Defiant, but still no facial hair on Sisko.  I'm beginning to wonder if I imagined it.

I'm seven episodes in and so far the following has happened:
  • Quark becomes embroiled in Klingon drama in "The House of Quark." This is a really great Quark episode (once again, god bless Armin Shimerman), and female Klingons are always fun to watch.  This is also the first appearance of Gowron (Chancellor of the High Council) on DS9.  It's not a very important episode for Gowron, but I know he becomes more important in the series later on.
  • Kira is surgically altered to look like a Cardassian in "Second Skin." Along with the alternate universe trope, I love it when characters are surgically altered to look like alien races.  It's such an easy yet surefire way to entertain me.  The best use I can think of is the TNG episode "Face of the Enemy" in which Troi is kidnapped and made to look like a Romulan.  Anyway, "Second Skin" is a good ep, although (without getting spoilery), it seemed a little convenient, and I would have expected more skepticism from the father (comment if you want to discuss).
  • Dukat gets instant comeuppance in "Civil Defense." An old Cardassian security procedure is accidentally triggered and DS9 goes into lockdown, and eventually an auto-self-destruct sequence.  The crew can't figure out how to stop it, and Dukat drops by to gloat and offer help under terms that the crew can't accept.  He delivers a "have it your way" speech and then attempts to beam away, but the automated security procedure stops him and verbally disgraces him, assuming he is abandoning the ship (and that he is still in charge of the station).
I have to wait until season four for Worf, but I see that season three has appearances by Riker, Lwaxana, and Grand Nagus Zek, plus the introduction of Sisko's girlfriend Kasidy, and more time travel, telepathy, and that alternate universe Kira and Bashir visited last season.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


I just watched the Deep Space Nine episode "Crossover" in which Kira and Bashir find themselves in an alternate universe.  Alternate universe episodes are great, and this one was no exception.  Kira meets her surlier counterpart.  In fact, everyone's surlier in this reality.  It's just a surly universe.  O'Brien is an exception, and I have to say I really enjoyed Colm Meaney's portrayal of a humbler version of his character.

My favorite part in this episode was the cold open in which Bashir tries to strike up a friendly conversation with Kira.  The Major is all business so she keeps her answers short and curt.  Finally, Bashir invites her to dinner.  She rebuffs him and he tries to save face by insisting that he only intended the invitation as platonic.  This is adorable because in the near future (or possibly concurrently) the actors playing these characters would be romantically involved.  The episode aired in 1994 and the actors married in 1997.  They're no longer together, but it's a cute snapshot.

I'm close to the end of the second season, and I'm looking forward to the Defiant, the Dominion, and Sisko's facial hair.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunset Parking

I recently moved to the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, and brought my car with me.  Before that I lived in Long Island City, Queens for eight years, seven of which in the same apartment.  Then and now, my parking ritual is to first search in the immediate area around my apartment and then, if that's fruitless, head in to the less desirable area.  In both neighborhoods, I knew that there was guaranteed parking in places farther than I ever wanted to walk and it was just a matter of how long I felt like looking before giving up.

After living here for only two months, I discovered a secret special bonus parking area.  I'm not going to tell you where, in fact telling you I live in Sunset Park may have even narrowed it down too much.  What I will tell you is that, somewhere near my apartment, there is a block which is one-half bus stop and one-half total parking anarchy.  There are no signs or curb markings defining any sort of parking regulation.  No alternate side, no 1- or 2- hour parking, no school days bullshit.  It is the half-block that the DOT forgot.

What's more, there's always a spot available.  It fits about four cars, and I can always fit my big ass minivan in to one of them.  Drivers must just not trust it, like it's a parking oasis or something.  I don't blame them.  When I don't see a sign, I walk up and down the block until I find one.  I break out the tape measure if I'm near a hydrant (15 feet is the rule, FYI).  I've been towed and fined enough times to know know that taking the chance is never worth it, so I empathize with the drivers who see this parking anomaly and just drive by.

I may have just jinxed it, but hopefully I will have this secret parking bliss for many more years, unmarred by discovery either by fellow motorists or the DOT.

This plant has nothing to do with Star Trek

While it's true that watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the impetus for starting this blog, and it's the only thing I've written about so far, I never intended it to be the subject of this blog.  I made sure that the title, "about me" section, and theme were all general.  The idea was to just create a space outside my Livejournal where I could do some more focused, less ranty, less stream-of-consciousness writing.  Previous blogging attempts (exhibits A and B) have failed because their subject matter was too specific, so I decided to try something more broad.

In the interest of diversifying this blog, I present to you this plant:

Last June, I visited my sister's father-in-law's art studio in Saugerties, NY.  He had this wonderful plant with the most peculiar blossoms that secreted a nectar that tasted like maple syrup.  He gave me a clipping which consisted of two leaves and a stem.  I put it in water and let it root.

Six months later, after enduring an apartment renovation and move against all odds, it had formed a spool of roots in the bottom of the small dish I'd put it in.  I transferred it into a pot and put it in my shower so it would get watered effortlessly.  I wasn't sure if this would work, and I was starting to get frustrated by the progress it appeared not to be making.

This morning, I noticed that there was a third leaf about half the size of the other two!  It's not at all surprising that I failed to notice this leaf until now, which has clearly been growing for at least a few weeks (I actually have no idea how quickly leaves grow, but I'll admit to being a little creeped out if this leaf wasn't there a few days ago, and I guess we'll never know).  I was thrilled.  I've had plants before, but in the past they've only shrunk, not grown.

My thumb is a little greener today and I just wanted to share this small amount of joy with all of you.  (Incidentally, this blog has no followers, so I have no idea of know how many "all of you" is.  Also, I have no idea how one "follows" a blog on Blogger, as I see no link, but if you can figure it out, please go ahead!)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Gul Putin

They all have five-letter names.

Actually, it's Jadzia now.

I'm really enjoying seeing Dax handle what essentially is sexual reassignment with badassness and grace. For the uninitiated, Dax is a symbiotic life form that moves from humanoid body to humanoid body as the hosts die.  Jadzia Dax, pictured below, is the latest Dax host, and at the beginning of the series she has only recently been "joined" to the symbiont following the death of the previous, male host.  Read more here

There's a lot written about this on the internet already, and from what I read, the series explores transgender issues via Dax plenty more as it progresses, so I won't elaborate now.  I'll just say that Jadzia, with the benefit of Dax's seven lifetimes of experience, is extremely well equipped to deal with the "yeah, I'm a woman now, deal with it" encounters that she is still facing at the end of the second season, and it's fun to watch.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Klutz Plague

I recently watched the second season episode "Rivals," in which a gaming device shifts probability all over the station (remnants of Hitchhiker's Guide) and causes some people to have incredible luck and other people to make a lot of silly mistakes.  This episode falls into the "something medical and strange is happening to everyone on the ship" category, minus the medical part (and also minus the "ship" part, I keep forgetting we're on a space station).  Also, this paragraph could be considered a spoiler if the cause of the station's woes weren't obvious from the moment the device was introduced.  I would have been pleased if, instead, they received word from StarFleet Command that Mercury was in retrograde.

I'd forgotten about this episode until just now when I tried to take a piece of candy out of a jar and sent it skittering across the floor (after which, of course, I blew on it and ate it), and then tried to put the lid back on and watched it clank and woogity woogity on my desk before falling off the edge.  Fortunately for me, I know the reason for my klutziness is indeed the cosmos and not a silly blinking spherical toy.

Before I forget, I want to register my satisfaction that two cast members from The Princess Bride have made appearances on DS9.  Chris Sarandon (Prince Humperdinck) appears in the above-described episode as the Harold Hill-like character who popularizes the gaming device and hence spreads the klutz plague.  In a truly inspired casting choice, Wallace Shawn (Vizzini) guest stars as the recurring character Grand Nagus Zek.  You'd never recognize him under all that Ferengi makeup, but once he opens his mouth you just want to hear him scream, "Inconceivable!"

Please note tiny Ferengi head cane-topper

Monday, February 17, 2014

Deep Space to the Nines

Let's pretend this isn't the first post in a new blog, and I've been posting here for years.

Reading Fashion It So from beginning to end whetted my appetite for Star Trek: TNG, but not so much that I wanted to actually watch the show.  It did, however, spark an interest in watching Deep Space Nine from the beginning, which in my experience is the least-liked series in the Star Trek canon.  A college roommate once criticized, "The ship doesn't move!"  All other opinions on it have boiled down to: meh.  I enjoyed what little I've seen of it, though, so I'm going to give it a watch, and blog about it here.

Oh, and though I imply in the title of this post that I'll be covering fashion like Charlie and Anna do in Fashion It So, I really won't be.  I defer to the experts on that one, and I do hope they'll take on DS9 when they finish TNG.

I've already binge-watched the first season, which I acknowledge is 20 hours that could have been better spent.  I won't lie though; I enjoyed myself.  In the future I'll try to cover smaller amounts per post, but for now let's get this out of the way.


  • Bars of Gold-Pressed Latinum: I am so sick of hearing this term.  Even if the writers thought this would be a feasible currency 400 years in the future, I can't believe they wouldn't have abbreviated it to "Bars" or "Latinum" or something by now.  It's such a mouthful, especially when someone has to act their way through it.  "I'll give it to you for SEVEN no EIGHT BARS of GOLD-pressed LATINUM."  If I were an actor on the show, this would definitely drive me bonkers.  God bless Armin Shimerman.
  • Speaking of bonkers, the first episode was a two-hour acid trip.
  • And speaking of acting, Dr. Bashir, Jesus Christ.  I have no business critiquing acting, so Jesus Christ is all I'll say.  Watching this from the beginning fills in some details on Bashir's character that I missed, such as he's a lothario and, if it's not redundant to say so, a douchebag.
  • Apparently they could only get Rosalind Chao for a few episodes, so a lot of the cold opens feature the "Where's Keiko?" game.  Keiko's down on Bajor.  Keiko went home to Earth for her grandmother's birthday.  I love Keiko, but they don't really have to justify it every time she's not in an episode.
  • Common theme: Something medical and strange is happening to everyone on the ship!
I could go on, but there's more internet for you to read.