Friday, December 27, 2002

My Review of Star Trek: Nemesis

I finally got to see Star Trek: Nemesis yesterday. I talked Sean into going with me. We had a great time, and we both thought it was a good movie, and that it could have been better. FYI, fanboy shit ahead.

First, the whole Shinzon/Picard plot was interesting only briefly. But after the third "I am your shadow/You are me" speech, I wanted to scream at the director "I get it! It's nature versus nurture! Move on!"

Second, the Data/B4 sub plot, intended to mirror the main plot, was not needed. This is what happens when an actor pitches story ideas.

Third, the Romulans were ill used in the movie. The screenwriter had set out to do for the Romulans what the earlier movies had done for the Klingons. Then he creates a new race to replace them! WTF?!

Here's how I think the movie would have been better.

First, replace Shinzon with Sela, the alternate Tasha Yar's daughter and lose that whole nature/nuture thing. Pre-release interviews kept repeating that they needed a worthy villian, like in Star Trek II. Instead of bring back a villian from the show, the create a new one. Sela had the motivation to destroy the Federation. Picard ordered her mother to her death, and then later, with Data's help, thwarted her plan to take over the Klingon Empire. Later, Data, Picard and Spock prevented the Romulans from taking over Vulcan. That's motivation: revenge. Shinzon's motivation? "Picard had it better than me." You could still use the Remans, and their motivation for following Sela.

Second, lose B4. Granted, that was a good way to get Data onto the Romulan ship, and it makes sense that there was a less "mentally" advanced android before Data, but there was no explanation as to how they found B4. As far as we know, he could have been a Romulan creation. instead, have Sela reuse the technique that the Romulans used to have Geordi become an assassin, and apply it to Data.

The space battle was cool. Well worth the price of admission. Go see the movie. It was fun.

Friday, December 20, 2002

What is wrong with people?

(20) Yesterday, I ran across a news article at the Hampton Road, Virginia, Daily press website. Barbie's married friend, Midge, is pregnant. Some slack-jawed yokels who shop at the Wal-Mart in Yorktown are offended, and Wal-Mart, in their typical, in-your-face style, pulled the dolls from shelves. (Area Target and Toys 'R' Us stores have not received any complaints and have not pulled the doll.) They said "they wouldn't buy the new Midge dolls because they didn't want their little girl playing with a pregnant doll and that the Barbie line of dolls is supposed to be a role model for young girls," the article said.

A local clergyman expressed his concern of exposing children to a pregnant doll (Midge does have a husband, by the way, and a 3 year-old son), but had to give Mattel props for at least marrying off the doll. "Our kids need these early years for normal, natural play without the intrusion of adult issues that they will face soon enough," he said.

Oddly enough, he didn't have any complaints about the store selling plastic M16s, and Persian Gulf War GI Joe.

This just supports my theory that morons shop at Wal-Mart.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Ain't Technology Wonderful?

One of my friends is in Norway for Christmas. Thanks to the Internet, I have spoken to her twice. Back in the old days (the 80s) talking to someone on the far side of the world meant a hugely expensive long-distance phone call. Now, you can surf the web from anywhere and get your email. We are living in wonderous times, aren't we?

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

I'm Getting Too Old for This

On Sunday, my boss had an open house for homeowners. We had lots of food and beer and wine. The party ended at 7 pm. Dan, Donna, Debbie, Larry and I sat around and drank until 10 pm, or so. Didn't want the extra beer and wine to spoil, you know. The next morning I really didn't want to come to work. The alarm went off at 5 am. I turned it off, turned on the lamp by my bed and dozed until 6:45. I left the lamp on so I wouldn't fall completely asleep.

I drug myself to work at 7 am so I could open. It was rough, what with all the cats stomping around town. Donna showed up about 9:30. I complained to Gary via email, and all he could say was "Ha! Ha! Ha! We never learn do we."

Friday, December 06, 2002

A Visit to the Post Office

I just bought a new Standing-on-line-in-the-Post-Office-to-buy-stamps book. It’s “War and Peace.” I only read it while at the Post Office. No cheating.

While I was aging in the line with my book recently, I realized that the Postal Service had spent about million bucks to create a larger, more spacious and efficient post office to serve the community, and didn’t spend a penny to hire anyone to man the extra cash registers.

With my stamps in hand, I was fifth from the counter and watched as a tall, white haired man wearing a plaid shirt and jeans hand the clerk a yellow postcard. “This was in my post office box,” he explained. “I have a package.”

“Okay,” the lady nodded as she took the card.

The new building is so labyrinthine, she slipped on a steel helmet with a light attached, flicked a switch and disappeared.

Two chapters of my book later, she reappeared with a medium sized package. A co-worker at the register next to her blinked in surprise, then made a slow circle in the air indicating the first clerk should turn around. To our surprise, her back was covered with tarantulas! The co-worker brushed them off, and they skittered away. The clerk set the package on the counter, turned off the lamp, and took off the helmet. The man grabbed his package, nodded his thanks and left.

The line inched forward.

The co-worker returned to helping an elderly lady who had requested a change of address form. “Are you living there now? When will you be there? The form is over there, under the sign that says ‘Change of Address Forms.’ Next!”

The first clerk sold a couple of money orders, and when the customer started filling them out, she told him to go to the desk in the middle of the room and do it there. “No way,” he replied. “I ain’t standing in that line again!” The guy bore a passing resemblance to Martin Sheen. (“This drivers’ license photo doesn’t look like you.” “It did when I came in here.”)

I recalled that on November 6, 2002, the United States Postal Service announced that due to an accounting error they had over contributed billions (that’s with a “b” and an “s”) to their retirement accounts. Ooops. According to the news story, there won’t be a postage increase for three or four years as a result. Maybe they could use the billions to hire a couple of extra people to man those unused cash registers.

Then, I flashed back to July 2001. Mom, Dad and I went on the Great Western Prison and Post Office Tour. We drove from Fredericksburg to Colorado and back. At the edge of every little town and village, a gleaming new Post Office glittered in the sun. (And about every 200 miles we passed a prison. They must be building the closer to the roads so the escaping prisoners won’t have as far to walk to carjack somebody.) Are they also overused and understaffed?

I recognized the glazed looks on the faces around me. I see them in Wal-Mart and HEB all the time. Did the Postal Service design their clerk stations according to what I call the Wal-Mart principle? Here's how it works: Take the maximum number of parking spaces and divide by 25 to get the number of check-out lanes. Then man four of them and leave the rest empty, and watch the lines swell. Oh, yeah. Make one of the clerks a trainee. That'll brighten everyone’s day!

I stopped my wool gathering and returned to my book. I was half way through it, and completely confused by the intricacies of what was going on—the book was confusing too—when the clerk shouted, “Sir! Next!”

Startled, I looked around and saw she was speaking to me. Drawing glares from the line behind me, I walked up to pay for my stamps. Thoughtfully, I had opened the little package and put stamps on my mail. I handed her the mail, and she asked, “Anything fragile, explosive or dangerous?”

“Just their tempers,” I replied indicating the line behind me.