Sad News

“I’m afraid you have it all wrong, all of you.  I’ve been monitoring some of their old-style radio waves, the empire spokesman trying to ridicule their religion, but he couldn’t. Well, don’t you understand? It’s not the sun up in the sky. It’s the Son of God.”

Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, Star Trek, Bread and Circuses episode

 

 

Sad news that actress Nichelle Nichols, at age 85, has been diagnosed with dementia.  Prayers for her and her family.

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The Untouchables: Death Theme

 

Something for the weekend.  The Death Theme from The Untouchables (1987).  With all the news about Chicago violence this week, my thoughts have turned to this wonderful, albeit ahistorical, movie.  The music by Ennio Morricone is wonderfully evocative of time and place.  The sad and powerful music recalls for me the line from The Lord of The Rings It is a sad thing to be a Man, but it is a proud thing too.

 

Published in: on August 11, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Man in the High Castle Season Three: October 5, 2018

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Ecclesiastes 12:5

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61souSkwDk4

 

Well that took a while.  I have eagerly anticipated Season Three of the Amazon Prime Series The Man in the High Castle, and it will finally premiere on October 5, 2018.

The late Philip K. Dick, paranoid, left-leaning, mentally ill and drug abuser, was nevertheless a science fiction writer of pure genius.  His book The Man in the High Castle (1962) introduced me as a boy to the genre of alternate history, with his unforgettable evocation of a United States divided by the victorious Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  One of the main plot devices in the book is a novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which posits an alternate reality in which the Allies won World War II.  Like most of Dick’s work, the book suggests that the dividing line between alternate realities can be very thin.

Dick’s novel brings out the contingency of history, a factor overlooked by many people.  History is what has occurred.  While we are living it, making our contribution to what will be the history of our times, we understand that what will be is the result of many factors and predicting the future is a fool’s game.  The past seems rock solid by comparison.  Understanding however the events and circumstances that shaped the past, and also comprehending that different paths could easily have been followed, gives us a different view of the past and the present.    It is one thing to go through life with the philosophy that “what will be, will be” and quite another to appreciate that the future depends upon what we and our contemporaries do now.

The President on the Duke

The things you find on the internet! President Reagan being interviewed in 1988 about John Wayne:

 

Wayne was ever a friend and supporter of Reagan:

 

Published in: on July 12, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The President on the Duke  
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Steve Ditko: Requiescat In Pace

 

 

In my misspent youth I collected comics.  (As a sign of advancing maturity I got rid of them when I was 13.  If I had saved such treasures as my beloved Spider-Man #2 I could have a tidy sum now!).  Perhaps my favorite comic book was the initial run of Spider-Man drawn by artist Steve Ditko.  Spider-Man became a crime fighter due to his beloved Uncle Ben, his foster father, being slain by a burglar that Spider-Man could have apprehended but did not due to his having been too self-absorbed to help a cop chasing the burglar.  I always thought Spider-Man had a powerful motivation as his lack of action, his sin of omission, led to the death of Uncle Ben, and as I was taught early by the nuns, a sin always requires reparation, and Spider-Man’s reparation was to fight crime, a theme that was constantly remarked upon in the comic.

I identified with Spider-Man.  Spider-Man was a bookish teenager lacking social skills suddenly vested with great powers.  He was also broke and his travails over money had a ring of familiarity to me.  My favorite Spider-Man story of the Ditko era was a trilogy in which he was suffering from the flu and had to stop the bad guys and somehow get the serum necessary to save the life of his Aunt May who was seriously ill.  It sounds silly in that bare bones summary of the plot, but the story arc emphasized some good lessons for a growing boy:  courage against the odds, fighting for those you love and that superpowers do not make the hero since Spider-Man lost much of his as a result of the flu, and was even more heroic as a result.

Steve Ditko, the legendary artist who drew Spider-Man, has passed away at age 90.  In a field dominated by Leftists, Ditko was a follower of Ayn Rand.  He had a very distinctive style, go here to see samples of his work.  His stark drawings were a reflection of how Ditko looked at the world.  Good and Evil were realities to him, and not merely differing shades of gray.  In 2004 Ditko wrote about another of his comic book heroes, Mr. A:

“Mr. A stands for a rational, objective philosophy of positive, pro-life premises and values. That is symbolized by his white and black card. A is A, no graying, no contradictions: Reality is an absolute, man is a rational being, reason (logic) is man’s only means to knowledge, man’s life is the standard of value, the good is that which supports a rational life, man must act on objective, rational virtues of integrity, independence, honesty, etc. The moral man is the man who leads a productive life, at his best in thought and action. …. Mr. A’s values are the highest values, the best values, for a man to live by if he wants the best life has to offer.”

A rather reclusive figure, as far as is known Ditko never married and had no children.  He politely declined requests for formal interviews, although anyone who wanted to could stop by his Manhattan studio and talk to him if he had the time.  Somewhat of a restless figure, not always easy to work with,  he was employed by many comic book companies during his career.  Ditko went his own way during his life, rarely willing to temper his art to suit his employers.  May he enjoy in the next life the peace and joy that his characters strove for.

 

Published in: on July 10, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Steve Ditko: Requiescat In Pace  
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Groucho Marx Interviewing Rod Serling

The things you find on the internet:

Broadcast on Tell it To Groucho, the short-lived successor to You Bet Your Life, on April 2, 1962.  Marx was a born interviewer.  A seventh grade drop out, not unusual at all in his time and place, Marx made up for it by being a compulsive reader and, aided by his lightning wit, could hold his own with the most brilliant of his guests.

Published in: on June 25, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Groucho Marx Interviewing Rod Serling  
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Lost in Space

Something for the weekend.  Theme songs from Lost in Space.  As a kid I loved the show, even though even at the age of eight I realized the show was science fantasy rather than science fiction.  The 1998 Lost in Space movie left me cold as it was too dark for my tastes and did not fit the lighter tone of most of the episodes of what was often an especially silly show.

 

 

 

A new Netflix take on the show debuted yesterday.  The episodes I have thus far watched aren’t bad.

 

 

 

Published in: on April 14, 2018 at 3:25 am  Comments Off on Lost in Space  
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Why We Fight

(I posted this at The American Catholic, and I thought the Star Trek mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it,)

 

 

Time to refresh my Chief Geek of the blog creds.  The Axanar film project has produced huge fan interest, and well it should.  The Prelude to Axanar video below is the best Trek I have ever seen.

 

Jonathan Lane has written, and Mark McCrary has illustrated,  the first illustrated fan short story set in the Axanar universe.  With their kind permission I am posting it here.  Give your comments in the comboxes.  Go here to view the Fan Film Factor Blog.

 

 

Stardate: 2244.9
Location: The 602 Club, Mill Valley near San Francisco, Earth

At a table…

MATT: Apollo

THALEK: Ares

DARIA: Artemis

RON: Demeter

MATT: Dionysus

THALEK: Hades

DARIA: Um, um…Hecate

RON: Hephaestus

MATT: Hermes

RON: Wrong!

THALEK: Incorrect!

DARIA: Crash and burn, Matt!

MATT: Which one did I miss?

ALL: Hercules!!!

MATT: BLAST IT!

RON: Take a shot.

DARIA: Hey, why is it called the Hercules and not Heracles?

MATT: Huh?

DARIA: All the other human Ares-class ships are named after GREEK gods.  Hercules was the ROMAN name for Heracles, which was the original Greek name.

MATT: Hey, Daria, when did you get transferred from biochemistry to ship’s cultural historian?

DARIA: Pulse you, Decker!  When I signed up for Starfleet, I figured I was gonna EXPLORE alien societies…not shoot at them.

[Long, quiet stare.]

MATT: Yeah, I think that’s true for most of us.

THALEK: Not me.  I wanted to fight!

RON: Well, you’re just an idiot is what you are.

MATT: Hey, I thought Hercules–excuse me, HERACLES–wasn’t even a full god.  Wasn’t he just a half-god?

RON: Don’t tell Captain Travis that.  He’ll knock you right into San Francisco Bay…from here!

DARIA: So how many Ares-class cruisers do we have in service now?

MATT: Twenty-two.  And there’s two more in dry dock, ready to join the Fleet.  Nemesis and, um…the god with the two faces…

THALEK: Janus.

DARIA: Huh?  Thalek, how is it that an Andorian knows the name of an ancient Earth god?

THALEK: I don’t.  But the USS Janus is getting an Andorian crew, and I’m being transferred from the Poseidon as soon as the new vessel is ready.

DARIA: Ah.

RON: Speaking of Andorians, Thalek, why is it that you hang out with us humans here at the bar?

THALEK: I don’t understand…

MATT: What he means is that most of the crews stick with their own species.  Look around.  The Tellarites drink with other Tellarites.  The Andorians drink with Andorians.  The Vulcans…well, I don’t think they even drink, but they certainly don’t socialize with us.

THALEK: One could say that you humans don’t exactly socialize outside of your own species either.

[Looks of embarrassment.]

THALEK: Hah!  As you humans say, I’m just pulling your hair.

MATT: Leg.

THALEK: Why would someone pull a leg?

MATT: Good point.

THALEK: It’s true that we are all still a little leery of the other races—Vulcans, Humans, Andorians, Tellarites, Nausicans, Deltans.  The Federation covers a vast span of the galaxy, and our races don’t get many opportunities to interact with each other.  Without warp-six capable starships, it can take weeks or even months just to get from one star system to the other.

DARIA: But now we’re all here on Earth together, fighting a common enemy.  You’d think we’d make more of an effort to get to know each other.

RON: I don’t want to get to know each other…

DARIA: Ron!

RON: I don’t!  That’s my choice.

DARIA: Thalek, he didn’t mean that.  He’s just a little drunk…

RON: Pulse you!  I know what I said!

MATT: Ron, don’t be a dunsel…

RON: I’m just saying what we’re all thinking!  Tellarites—they’re obnoxious!  They think they’re hot plasma, but they’re just a race full of angry, pig-nosed bloodworms!  Deltans…they’re supposed to be so “sexually mature” that we aren’t even supposed to talk to them!  What in blazes is up with THAT???

DARIA: Ron, keep your voice down, you’re making a scene.

RON: Nausicans are just animals!  Orions are blasted thugs.  Denobulans…

MATT: Seriously?  You’ve got a problem with Denobulans?

RON: Well, no, I suppose they’re okay.  But all the rest of them.  Look at those Vulcans sitting over there…

MATT: Oh, man, here we go.  I knew he’d get to the Vulcans…

RON: Why shouldn’t I???  They think they’re so blasted superior to us.  For a hundred years, they held back technology from Earth—even though we were supposed to be allies—said we weren’t ready for it.  We had to claw our way to a Warp 5 engine that they’d already had for centuries.

THALEK: That doesn’t surprise me.  The Vulcans used to be quite protective of their technology.

RON: They still are!

MATT: Hey, did you know my great-great grandfather worked with Henry Archer on the Warp 5 project?  Or was it three greats?

DARIA: My great-grandfather served under Henry Archer’s son on the Enterprise during the Romulan War.  He was their helmsman.  I think Captain Archer’s first officer was a Vulcan.

RON: Probably sent to spy on them…

THALEK: I don’t beleive  so.  I seem to recall that she helped reveal the existence of a Vulcan listening post that was covertly monitoring my people.  I doubt that a Vulcan spy would assist in a mission that would so jeopardize a clandestine operation like that.

RON: Doesn’t it bother you that they were spying on your planet in the first place???

THALEK: That was nearly a century ago.  The Vulcans have changed.

RON: HAVE THEY????

DARIA: Ron, please quiet down.  You’re embarrassing all of us.

MATT: Yeah, Ron…

RON: Shut up!  The Vulcans haven’t changed at all.  They’re still arrogant know-it-alls who think they’ve figured out what’s best for the galaxy.  The “great awakening”?  Don’t make me laugh!  They weren’t even going to enter this war!!!  And they’re still withholding technology from us!!!   The weapons on board the Zeus?  The Andorians gave us those…

THALEK: You’re welcome.

DARIA: And the Vulcans gave us shields and life support systems.

RON: But they held back the weapons!!!  Why?  YOU HEAR ME, YOU POINTY-EARED HOBGOBLINS?

DARIA: Ron, sit down!

RON: DON’T IGNORE ME, YOU GREEN-BLOODED COWARDS!!!  Why didn’t you give us weapons?  We know you have them!  And they’re probably much more advanced than ours.  Or maybe you could have helped us, worked with us, to improve the weapons that we ALL have.  DO YOU WANT THOSE BLOODTHIRSTY KLINGONS TO WIN THIS WAR???

DARIA: Matt, we need to do something…

RON: LOOK AT ME, BLAST IT!!!  You Vulcans–you’re not even fighting!  You’re just PRETENDING to fight!

MATT: I’m going to find someone from security.

RON: You could have saved the crew of the Tecumseh!  They were being decimated by the Klingons!!  The Nike was the first ship to arrive at Altair VI.  But instead of engaging the Klingons, you held back.  WHY???  My sister was on that ship, and you sat back and didn’t fire a shot!  You cowards hid behind a stupid moon!!!   WHY????  Why didn’t you engage sooner?  WHY DID YOU WAIT???

[A loud voice answers from elsewhere in the 602 Club…]

GARTH: Because I ordered them to.

[Captain Kelvar Garth walks over to their table.]

DARIA: (whispering) Holy…is that who I think it is?

THALEK: It’s Garth.

MATT: Captain present!  Ten-hut!

GARTH: At ease, everyone.  You, too, Lieutenant…. Lieutenant?

RON: Tracey, sir.  I’m a weapons officer on board the USS Zeus.

GARTH: Lieutenant Tracey, I’m sorry about your sister.  I truly am.  We lost 184 valiant men and women in that battle…but it could have been more.  I gave the Vulcans on the Nike the order to wait behind that moon until the rest of their squadron could arrive.

RON: But why, sir?  The Tecumseh was crippled, defenseless.  They had no chance against the Klingons.

GARTH: And neither did the Nike, son…not alone.  Over half a dozen D-6 cruisers came out of warp to ambush the Tecumseh.  Had the Nike gone in before our other ships arrived in the system, it would have been a blood bath…and it would have cost us one of Starfleet’s most advanced warships.

RON: We still lost an entire ship and crew!

GARTH: But not two, Mr. Tracey!  Not even an Ares-class could have held off that many Klingons!

[Closes eyes, composes himself.]

This war isn’t fair, Lieutenant.  It isn’t just, and it certainly isn’t clean.  It is, quite literally, the ugliest and most daunting test we have ever faced as a planet.  And every choice we make, every command we give, will cost us something…because the enemy we are facing is ruthless.

RON: My sister wasn’t even a soldier, sir.  She worked in their sickbay.

GARTH: Look, I know most of us didn’t sign up to be warriors.  That’s not what Starfleet’s about.  But we have to prove that we can do what we need to do to defend the Federation…no matter the cost.

[Pause.  Thick silence.  Deep breath.]

GARTH: That order…and the destruction of the Tecumseh…will haunt me for the rest of my life, Mr. Tracey.  I see those faces and hundreds like them every night when I wake up from my nightmares.  One day when you’re a captain—and I hope you will be—I pray you never have to make the decision of who gets to live and who has to die.  I hope that, by the time you have a ship of your own, that there is peace in the Federation and we can all return to simply being explorers.

DARIA: I think we all want that, Captain.

GARTH: But in the meantime, understand this: we are all—ALL—fighting for each other.  Humans, Andorians, Vulcans, Tellarites…we are a FEDERATION of Planets.  We must have each other’s backs.  We fight the Klingons—we DON’T fight each other.  And remember this, as well: none of us, no race, no individual, is perfect.  No one has a monopoly on bravery or intelligence or common sense, and no one is morally superior.  We’ll all make bad decisions…or sometimes even good decisions with bad outcomes that can’t be avoided.  But we must be willing to look past the bad and see the good in all the races of the Federation.

[Garth turns toward the window and looks out at the stars.]

Someday this blasted war will be over.  It HAS to end, and we HAVE to win.  There is no alternative for us.  And when that finally happens, we’ll be left with what we’ve been fighting for this entire time: the United Federation of Planets.  Don’t tear apart the very thing that we have been risking and sacrificing our lives to preserve.  Do you understand, Lieutenant?

RON: Yes, sir, I do.

GARTH: I think it’s time you head back to your quarters…all of you.  That’s an order.  Sleep this off.  There’s a still a war on, and we need you all to be at your best.  Dismissed.

[The four officers get up to leave.  Ron walks over to the Vulcans and raises his glass in a toast.]

RON: To our losses: Vulcan, Human, Andorian, Tellarite…all of the races in the Federation.  We fight together.

[The Vulcans take a moment, look at each other, stand up, and raise their glasses.]

Vulcans: To our losses.

SONYA: That was quite the speech, Kel.  You trying for Ramirez’s job?

GARTH: No way.  He can keep it!

SONYA: Well, your words do lead to actions.  I admire that.  I think you really reached that young officer.

GARTH: I hope so, Sonya.  But I meant what I said: this war HAS to end, and we HAVE to win.

SONYA: I agree.  But the twenty-five thousand credit question is “How?”

GARTH: That’s why I asked you here.  I’ve got an idea…and it’s a pretty crazy one.  But I actually think it could work.

SONYA: What is it?

GARTH: Sit down, Sonya, and order a drink.  I have a feeling you’re gonna need it.

The beginning of the end…

The Ride to Dubno

Something for the weekend.  Whenever I need cheering up, or simply an energy boost, Franz Waxman’s Ride to Dubno always does the trick.  It was written for the movie Taras Bulba (1962) and the video clip below is the amazing sequence where the song is played as the Cossack army gathers on its way to Dubno:

 

 

Here is a magnificent duet rendition of the song:

And here is an orchestral version:

 

 

Published in: on March 3, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Ride to Dubno  
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Incredibles 2

(I posted this on The American Catholic and I thought the film mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)

 

Well, fourteen years is a long time to wait, but Incredibles 2 is coming out on June 15.

 

 

 

The original Incredibles was the most conservative movie to come out of the entertainment industry in many a moon.  Don’t believe me?  Go here to read the 2005 moans of a Leftist about the movie.  Politics aside, it was a grand movie, hilarious and heart warming, and the best family flick of 2004.  I am looking forward to this.

Published in: on March 1, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Incredibles 2  
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