ALMOST STAR TREK: STERLING BRONSON RETURNS – BY TOM CURLEY

Several of my recent blogs here have been about Star Trek and all of its various iterations.

nerdist.com
nerdist.com

It’s apparently sparked a bit of a trip down memory lane because Marilyn just posted a funny (and true) blog about Star Trek called Ten, Nine, Eight… (Shut Up Spock).

It seems we have inadvertently (or advertently?) begun to write new mini-episodes of an old radio show we did a long time ago in a galaxy not that far away — and that Marilyn wrote what was probably the first parody of Star Trek.

When the original Star Trek went into syndication in the early 1970s, Marilyn and I (and many others of our tribe) watched them. Constantly.  Repeatedly. Usually under the influence of Romulan Ale.

giantbomb.com
giantbomb.com

I’m just kidding. It was usually Acapulco Gold.

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barneysfarm.com

We all loved all of them. Back then I was doing a one hour weekly radio show called “Fulton’s Folly” at WVHC. Our college radio station. (Note: Our alma mater is on Fulton Street, hence … )

youtube.com
youtube.com

It was a sketch comedy show.  Most of it was pretty dumb, but sometimes it was truly funny. One of our most popular recurring skits was the  previously mentioned Star Trek parody. Marilyn and a friend of hers had the idea, and called it “Sterling Bronson, Space Engineer.”

Why? First, it was an inside joke about the radio station’s real chief engineer. Second, we figured if we called it anything with “Star Trek” in it, we’d probably get sued.  Looking back “Star Trek, Oh God Not Another Generation!” would have been cool. The episodes recounted the adventures of the merry band of miscreants who flew a United Federation Organization Star Ship, the UFO Sloth.

Its crew consisted of:

      • Captain James P. Clerk,
      • Science Officer Mr. Spook,
      • Chief Engineer Sterling “Scotty” Bronson,
      • Chief Medical Officer Dr. Femur,
      • Communications Officer Lt. O’Hara
      • Helm Officers Ensign Tolstoy & Lt. Guru
      • Nurse Temple.

They were not the sharpest pencils in the Star Fleet box.

clipartkid.com
clipartkid.com

Hell, they spent the first 6 episodes just trying to get out of the transporter room and beam down to a planet. Marilyn and her friend wrote the first dozen episodes.

Our listeners really liked them. After a while a young aspiring writer who worked at the radio station began writing longer, more complex episodes.  One story is was a humorous send up of “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.”  The young writer went on to become a successful science fiction and fantasy writer. His name is Simon Hawke.

amazon.com
amazon.com

He wrote one of my all-time favorite book series called “Time Wars,” available on Amazon.

A few years later I wrote and produced a full length one hour episode of the series. It was called “Sterling Bronson, Space Engineer.” Original, right? It’s online and you can hear it here.

It was serialized on another show I did later called A Half Hour Radio Show.

half-hour-radio-show

If I can ever find the tapes of the original series Marilyn wrote, I will put them online too. They are in my basement somewhere. I found them once. Damn it, I’ll find them again.

Years and years ago, I wrote the beginning of a Sterling Bronson episode that I never finished. I found the script a while back. It was printed on old dot-matrix computer track paper.

nearbycafe.com
nearbycafe.com

(Yeah, it’s that old). I’ve always regretted having not having finished it. What cracked me up is that it’s based on the same point that Marilyn’s blog made. That being how Spock has an annoying habit of constantly counting things down.

All of our recent Star Trek blogs have made references to,  our “So Called President”.

mobile.twitter.comn
mobile.twitter.comn

In that light I’ve updated the episode. A smidgen. Here it is: the “Lost Sterling Bronson Episode”. It’s supposed to take place in real time. (“24” ripped me off!).


ENSIGN TOLSTOY: Captain! A Trumpulan ship has De-cloaked and is arming its weapons!

CAPTAIN CLERK: Trumpulans? Who the hell are they?

MR SPOOK:  A recently discovered species sir. They are an off-shoot of the human race. Apparently, hundreds of years ago a small group of humans left Earth and colonized a remote planet. They worshiped some long-forgotten despot they referred to only as “The Donald”. They are known for their lack of attention span, their rejection of anything factual and their tradition of wearing dead animals on their heads. They are easily offended and will attack anything that does not worship them.

debatepolitics.com
debatepolitics.com

CAPTAIN CLERK: Great. A bunch of narcissistic alien assholes. God, I miss the old days when we just had to deal with Klingons.

ENSIGN TOLSTOY: Sir, the Trumpulan ship is firing!

MR SPOOK: Shields are down to 90 percent. At this rate we will lose shields in 75.1243575789

CAPTAIN CLERK: ROUND IT OFF SPOOK!

MR SPOOK: A couple of minutes Jim.

CAPTAIN CLERK:  Arm photon torpedoes! Lock all phasers on that ship! Ensign Guru, FIRE!

ENSIGN GURU: But sir, if we fire on them, then they will fire on us. And we will fire on them. We will just be creating very bad karma.

CAPTAIN CLERK: Damn it Guru, I know you’re from the planet Gandhi Five but I don’t have time for your left-wing peace and granola  crap right now. If you don’t fire the phasers, we are all going to die!

MR SPOOK: In 69.268 seconds captain.

ENSIGN GURU: I’m sorry sir. It is against my beliefs to attack anyone.  Even if they are narcissistic alien assholes.

CAPTAIN CLERK: Then why the hell are you the Weapons Officer?? Never mind!  I’ll fire them myself.

LT O’HARA: Now old on sir. You can’t fire those phasers. You’re not in the union. You’re senior management.

CAPTAIN CLERK: WHAT? Are you serious?

LT O’HARA: Yes sir. Article 15, section 5 of the contract states …

CAPTAIN CLERK: OK. Fine. Whatever!  Then you do it!

LT O’HARA:  I Can’t sir.

CAPTAIN CLERK: Why not??

LT O’HARA: I’m in a different union.

CAPTAIN CLERK:  I don’t believe this! There must be something I can do!

MR SPOOK: There is sir. But I suggest you hurry. Shields will be down in 51.7865 seconds.

CAPTAIN CLERK: Stop telling me the time and tell me what the hell I can do!

MR SPOOK: I believe you might be able to get something called “A Waiver”. It would allow you to fire the weapons systems on a provisional  “one time” basis.

CAPTAIN CLERK: Great! Get me one of those!

MR SPOOK: I’m sorry sir. You would need to get that from the ship’s shop steward.

CAPTAIN CLERK: Shop steward! Who the hell is that?

MR SPOOK: Chief Engineer Bronson.

CAPTAIN CLERK: Attention Chief Engineer Bronson. This is the captain. I need to get a waiver to fire the phasers immediately! If I don’t we are all going to die!

MR SPOOK: In 52.7685

CAPTAIN CLERK: Shut up Spook! Can you do it Scotty?

SCOTTY:  I can sir, but I’ll need more time! There’s a lot of paperwork involved. I get can get it for you in about a week.

CAPTAIN CLERK: We don’t have a week!

MR SPOOK: We have 41.3454

CAPTAIN CLERK: SHUT UP SPOOK! OK, listen Guru, how about this. We don’t shoot the Trumpulan ship. We just “wing it”.

LT GURU:  Wing it?

CAPTAIN CLERK: Yeah! We “wing it”! Just like they did in those old holographic 20th century Westerns you love to watch. We just target the weapons systems. We “shoot the guns out of their hands”!

LT GURU: Hmmm. That sounds reasonable.

SFX: Phasers being fired.

MR SPOOK: Direct hit on all weapons systems sir. And I might add with 1.209384765 seconds to spare.

LT O’HARA: Incoming message from the Trumpulan ship sir.

CAPTAIN CLERK: Put it on speaker.

LT O’HARA: It’s an old-fashioned text message sir.

CAPTAIN CLERK: OK, put it on the screen

trump-tweet


I miss Klingons too.

TO FINITY AND BEYOND! – Tom Curley

I wrote this post while back. I’m re-posting it because it’s back in the news again.  Our Twittler-in-chief announced that he wanted to create a new branch of the military, the Space Force (pronounced SPAAACE FOOORCE!!! With reverb). It was just the latest gift for late night talk shows.

But recently Vice President and whitest human being on Earth, Mike Pence had a press conference with the Secretary of Defense announcing the creation of SPAACCE FOOORCE!!!

We must be prepared to fend off illegal aliens, or  gay aliens, or something like that.

Here’s the original post. It’s supposed to be old news, but as usual, it isn’t. Look in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s SPAACCE FOORRCE!

Every week since our Fucking-Idiot-In-Chief got into the Oval Office, every news report starts with a version of “This is the worst week yet for the President.” And there’s a reason they say that. It’s true. What’s amazing is how he manages to make this week worse than the last.

There’s no floor. You can’t say, “he can’t get any worse than this” because he will just say, “Oh yeah? Hold my near-beer.” (El Presidente doesn’t drink so I had to modify the meme).

Near-beer!

For a while, he was at least funny. He says stuff so stupid you just have to laugh. He writes all the late-night show’s monologues by himself (with a big assist by Fox News). But last month, he stooped to depths of depravity so low, so disgusting all the humor got pushed aside.  Ripping children from their parents and putting them in baby/toddler jails.

In the midst of this unspeakable evil, he was still trying to give us some comic relief. We were just too appalled, disgusted and enraged to notice it.


Our Chuckle-Head-In-Chief announced that he was ordering the Pentagon to create SPACE FORCE!

A “separate but equal branch” of the military. Separate but equal? What the hell does that mean? The Air Force and the Space Force have separate drinking fountains?

Then he actually said, “There’s no place like space, there’s no place like space.”

That night, all the late show comedy writers went “Well, we can take an early lunch.”

Just one thing. There already is a Space Force! Really! It’s been around since 1958. It was a syndicated comic strip called “Sky Masters of the Space Force!” created by Wally Wood and the great comic book artist Jack Kirby.

Can they sue? Probably not because I’m pretty sure they’re both dead.

He said we need the Space Force because we not only need to be in space but we need to DOMINATE SPACE!

Now the question becomes, who do we draft into the Space Force? We can’t use all of our current astronauts. They’re all scientists and engineers who work at an international space station where people from different countries all get along and work together. We can’t dominate space with these wimps!

We need real Americans.

Americans who want to make the galaxy great again!

The only problem is, Trump only picks people for his administration who are on television. But don’t despair! We have those heroes. Heroes like the Sky Masters of Space Force!

Oh wait, that was just a comic strip, not TV. OK, what about Tom Corbett, Space Cadet! He’s an American hero! He was on TV.

 

But, wait, he’s dead.

OK, what about Colonel Ed McCauley, head of the American Space Program in the 1959 TV show “Men into Space!” He was only on the air for a year, but he was still the head of the American Space Program!

The only problem is, he’s also dead.

OK, how about Ed Norton from the Honeymooners? He was an official ranger of Captain Video and his Video Rangers.

And what about Captain Video himself?

Shit, both dead.

Captain Kirk and Captain Jean Luc Picard are both still alive, but they don’t strike me as Trump’s kind of guys.

And hell, Kirk kissed a black girl.

Wait! Darth Vader! He’s totally a Trump kind of guy.

Crap, he’s dead too.

This could be a problem. Because let’s face it, we know that aliens have already visited Earth. And what do they do? One word. Anal probes.

They’re sending rapists! We need to stop the infestation of real, actual illegal aliens! What can we do?

Build a wall. A wall in space! We’ll make the aliens pay for it!

OK, we’ll make Mars pay for it!

We need real Americans to step up. How about the real American’s at Fox News? Hannity, Coulter, Ingram, Carlson and those three stooges who do Fox and Friends.

Draft them.

Send them into space to defend America! Defend Earth! Whatever. Just send them into space and make sure they stay there.

We can make them honorary Junior Birdmen.

To Infinity and beyond!

I WANT AN AUTONOMOUS HOUSE! Marilyn Armstrong

Autonomous house, autonomous life!

The self-driving vehicle is on the way. It’s on the news and in the news. A few accidents. One death. But considering the number of accidents just backing out of a driveway in suburbia, that’s pretty good.

I can actually see a day coming when Robert Heinlein’s vision will have arrived. Not exactly as he predicted, but close enough for folk music.

We could definitely use a self-driving car because neither one of us wants to drive anywhere, but we are driving a not-yet-paid-for second-hand 2012 Jeep Patriot, so a self-driving car doesn’t look likely to appear for us.

Autonomous cars would be great. Finally, we could blame everything on computers. Nothing would be anyone’s fault. The manufacturer’s of colliding cars could duke it out in court and all we’d have to do is recover from being slammed by a 40-foot moving van. Anyway, by then, medicine will be free. I know this because we are all moving in the direction of more freedom for all Americans.

We aren’t? Did I mis-hear the news again?

However much an autonomous self-driving vehicle would solve many issues, an autonomous, self-repairing, self-cleaning house would really do the job! If a tile on the roof gets damaged, the technology will grow another in its place. You’ll never know it happened. The furnace, will operate on hydrogen drawn from well-water and will never need filling. Rugs will be permanently free of dog hair, grit, pollen, and mud.

Pipes would never clog.

Of course, this presumes that we continue to get rain and have wells and aquifers. And we don’t turn into a charred desert or return to the Cretaceous period and have to live in trees.

Mostly, I want the autonomous house where everything gets fixed and I don’t have to figure out how to pay for it or even know I have a problem.

This whole “take care of your house” and “please don’t back into anything” is getting old.

I don’t think ANY of us should be driving. We are too distracted. Overly busy with phones, not to mention worries, conversations, and work. There are too many cars. Everywhere. Even where there aren’t a lot of people, there are still too many cars.

MAKE IT ALL AUTONOMOUS.

Anything you can run without needing me to do it, I’m a BIG yes. Please do not send me a bill.

Why is it always about MONEY?

Trump Cabinet invokes 25th Amendment

Fresh from “The Dissociative Press,” it’s the truth you yearn to hear …

Views from the Edge

25th_imageNEWS RELEASE

The Dissociative Press
January 7, 2018

Today White House Chief of Staff John Kelly announced the decision of the Trump Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to remove President Donald J. Trump from office.

The decision to begin the process of removal from office follows the Cabinet members’ review of the report of the president’s medical examination by an Army physician at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, a report and decision that move the country closer to  a constitutional crisis.

While the Cabinet was acting on the Army physician’s conclusive medical findings of a personality disorder, rapidly progressing early dementia and other evidence of cognitive impairment, President Trump sent out a series of tweets calling the Walter Reed report a conspiracy by the military, the FBI, and the CIA, the equivalent of a military coup, and declaring he will not…

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TURNS OUT YOU DON’T ACTUALLY NEED A PRESIDENT – BY TOM CURLEY

I wrote this post months ago. It was originally called “It’s A Crazy Idea, But It Just Might Work”.  I thought it was a joke, but, it turns out it’s working! Rather better than I thought it would. And now, with Trump back in the country … 


I’m not the first person to notice or comment on this, but  60 to 70 percent of Americans have been going thru the 5 Stages Of Grief after the election of, well, you know who.

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A few are still in Stage One, Denial. A lot are still in Stage Two, Anger. Most still seem to be stuck in Stage Three, Bargaining. Particularly the press. “Pivoting” and becoming “Presidential” are daily talking points.

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youtube.com

Many have reached Stage Four, Depression. A few have made it to Stage Five, Acceptance.  Now as any grief counselor will tell you, people go through these stages at different times and some go through some stages but not all.  For example, I’ve gone through the first four but I can’t get to the fifth. Unless disgust counts as acceptance.

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handheldpyrometer.com

But here’s the thing.

No matter what stage of grief you are currently in, or whether you will go through all of them or just a few …

THIS GUY IS STILL

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!!

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capitolhillblue.com

So, what are we going to do about it?

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We don’t have a lot of options, but one of our best options is the hope that he does nothing.

By which I mean NOTHING.

Nothing that’s Presidential, like “Running the Country” kind of stuff. Believe it or not, the government would survive if the President does nothing.  If you’ve ever worked for a large corporation you know that if the CEO goes on vacation for a month the company still runs just fine. Most times, even better.

The US government is a huge company and like any giant ship of state, it has a lot of inertia.

Our Ship of State (titanicstory.com)

Most government workers have worked there for decades. Their bosses come and go every four years, but they stay. They know what to do. George W Bush took 407 days of vacation during his two terms. That is one year, one month and 12 days of vacation for an 8-year job.  Looking back, would it have been so bad if he had taken even more time off?

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crewof42.com

So the problem becomes how do we prevent the new President from doing any “Running the Country” kind of stuff? In this case I don’t think it will be too hard. We, the American People need to KEEP HIM BUSY!

nytimes.com
nytimes.com

Think about it. For the first time ever, because of Twitter, a single individual can directly interact with the President of the United States and actually get his attention! He responds with amazing consistency. He must fight back over any “Mean Tweet”. “Mean Tweets” have occupied him from a few days to more than a week or so at a time.

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youtube.com

So, we have to come up with “Mean Tweets.” Tweets that will cause him to retaliate.

Here’s an example:

@HeyLookOverHere! Hey Mister President! Why are your feet so small?! Why is nobody talking? Has the cover-up already started? SAD! #TinyPedaledPOTUS  #TeenyFeetInChief #TenLittleTinyPiggies

smosh.com
smosh.com

I checked this out on Snopes.com and it’s actually true!

There’s been  lots of talk and jokes made about the size of the New Commander In Chief’s hands.  But why has nobody noticed or mentioned his feet?  Turns out, they’re not that big! Proportional to the rest of his body, his feet are tiny!  According to the scales and tables set up by the “American Association of Podiatry Advisory and Measurements Board,” the President-elect’s feet are “… between 20 and 28 percent smaller than they should be for a person of his height.”

triloquist.net
triloquist.net

And people are starting to notice. People are saying they’ve heard that he buys shoes that are too big and stuffs them with paper ripped from the Wall Street Journal.

thefineyounggentleman.com
thefineyounggentleman.com

That should occupy him for a day or two. We have to all help by re-tweeting each week’s “Mean Tweet”. The more people that re-tweet a “Mean Tweet,” the more the President will notice. He pays close attention to this stuff!

politicususa.com
politicususa.com

It’s even better if the press picks up the “Mean Tweet”. That almost guarantees a rapid response from the Oval Office.

We all must work together! Organize! Come up with a schedule!! That’s the most important part. A schedule! We have  to keep him busy for four years.

purepursuitauto.com
purepursuitauto.com

But we’re Americans! We can do it!

We don’t have to stop at Twitter. Get him involved with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat,

isys6621.com
isys6621.com

My Space!  (OK that last one’s a joke for the old folks.)

This is how the next four years have to go.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Sir, the Ambassador from (fill in the blank) is here.

PRESIDENT: Leave me alone! I’m trying to pick the right default Instagram filter for all my pictures!

coolmaterial.com
coolmaterial.com

It’s a crazy plan, but it just might work!! And remember, any article or email or post you receive that starts with the statement: “I checked this on Snopes.com and it’s true” … ISN’T!

I obviously made up the story about his feet. But that’s no reason not to re-tweet it. Twitter has been his secret weapon and he’s been using it well. It can also be his kryptonite.

On a separate note, I’m sort of proud that I could write this whole blog without once actually typing the name Donald Trump.

 

pinterest.com
pinterest.com

Crap.

“BELLWETHER” IS NOT NEW, BUT APROPOS

I’m listening to it again. Not the first, second, or third time. Maybe the fifth or sixth? When life gets too weird, I need a “Bellwether” fix. It’s novel — a short one — Connie Willis and along with several books by Douglas Adams, is one of the books that keeps me sane when all the world is going out of its way to drive me batshit.

It was the bellwether and sheep connection I never got. What do I know about sheep? And why would I care? It turns out, sheep and people have an unnerving amount in common.

A bellwether is the leader of a flock of sheep. She is — the bellwether is always female — an über ewe. She is the sheep who the flock always follows. There’s no specific reason why the bellwether leads and no reason why the flock follows. There is just something about that ewe.

What the bellwether does, other sheep do. They don’t have to think about it — not that sheep do a lot of serious thinking. Their following is automatic, instinctive. Every sheep in the fold will mindlessly, blindly follow, even over a cliff if that’s where she leads. The flock doesn’t know they are following a bellwether. They just do it.

We have bellwethers. One of them is president. His followers are akin to sheep. They don’t examine. They don’t think. They don’t care what “their bellwether” is doing because she is the sheep all of them follow. We no more recognize our bellwethers than do the sheep. An atavistic instinct, embedded in our DNA which says some are born to lead, others to follow. A few will walk their own way.

The book is laugh-out-loud funny. Erudite, witty, and replete with trivia guaranteed to upgrade your anecdotal skills.

Bellwether suggests answers to previously unanswerable questions. Why do people vote against their own self-interest? Why do we do so many stupid things? The answer? We’re following a bellwether. They are loose amongst us, invisible shakers and movers. Unaware of their effect on the people around them, they change the world. Bellwether explains a lot of events throughout history which have never made sense. Even after you know all the facts of what happened, most of history still doesn’t make sense. When you add in a few critical bellwethers, there is a hint of clarity. Human life, history and relationships are illogical. They happen. We can explain them only in retrospect. That’s what historians are for, after all. To make sense of the past because it won’t make sense by itself. Human society is chaotic. The only predictable thing is unpredictability.

I found Bellwether original, insightful, amusing and thought-provoking. Highly entertaining and funny. I can’t imagine what more anyone could want from a book. I recommend it both in print (Kindle or paper) and audio. It is a book you will read and remember.

Then read it again. It helps make the nonsensical almost sensible.

HOW STUPID ARE WE?

When I lived in Israel, there was a true story, heavily publicized in local papers, about a family who sold their house and used the proceeds to buy lottery tickets. They reasoned they had to win. Win big. After which they would buy a new house. It didn’t work out as planned. They ended up with a giant pile of worthless lottery tickets — and no house. It was a living example of “what could possibly go wrong” logic.

No people, no country, no place on earth is exempt from an unyielding belief that something great will happen in the middle of what is obviously a truly bad plan. It’s a people thing.

Watching television gives me many opportunities to ponder “what could possibly go wrong?” For example, last night, we saw an old CSI episode with Ted Danson in charge. He was using his lovely daughter as bait for a serial killer.

Really. What could possibly go wrong with that?

It took all the creativity of a team of writers to come up with a happy ending. It was unbelievable in the sense that I didn’t believe it. Garry didn’t believe it. I bet even the guys who wrote it didn’t believe it.

I try not to take this sort of thing personally. Can it be that the producers of television series think we are quite that stupid? I suppose these days, they may have a point … but they’ve been writing stupid scripts for a long time. Probably as long as there has been television.

When I worked at Doubleday, we wrote about books because, you know, Doubleday is a publisher. There were very few rules about how to write. We were allowed a great deal of creative freedom. But there was one big warning: never write “down” to your readers. As the editor in charge of the Doubleday Romance Library, I got to read surveys on who actually reads romance novels, an oft-maligned genre of literature.

These light, fluffy stories — all pretty much the same plot — always sold extremely well. It seemed that fans of the genre could not get enough of them. Yet survey after survey showed that the readers of romance novels were, of all of our reader groups, the best educated.

How could that be? Well, it turns out that many people in high-pressure professions don’t necessarily want a steady diet of serious books. They wanted books without ugly deaths or torture. They liked knowing there would be a happy ending and if they forgot to finish the book, it didn’t matter. It didn’t mean they didn’t read other stuff, but this was the marshmallow cream of literature.

Whoever is in charge of the story lines and scripts for television series have forgotten about not talking down to us. They think we are stupid. Okay, may some people are — but not everyone and not all the time. When the show gets sufficiently stupid, I stop watching. When the stories get ridiculous and the “what could possibly go wrong?” factor outweighs other entertainment values, I move on.

For me to accept a story, to suspend my disbelief, you need to give me a hook. Something that lets me accept whatever is happening as “possible.” Like, there you are on planet Alphabetazoid in the far away galaxy of ZYX900042 and everyone speaks colloquial 21st century American English. You want me to believe it? Tell me they are using their “Universal Translator.” Or they have babel fish in their ears. I want to believe, but you have to offer me a little help.

Of course, that’s useless when confronted by the vast real life ocean  of human stupidity. People who really do sell their homes to buy lottery tickets and vote for people who will destroy their lives. People who live an entire life composed of “what could possibly go wrong with that” scenarios.

In real life, I will trudge on dealing with stupidity because that’s life … but at least on television, give me a break. Help me believe. Because I may be naïve and unaware … but usually, not too stupid.

Life is stupid enough. I don’t need extra help.