A TALE OF TWO TREKS – BY TOM CURLEY


“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”

Well, that’s not really true. More like:


“It was the best of times. It was a not so bad at times.”

I’m not talking about our universe.  You know, real life.

That would be more like “It was the it was the worst of times. It was the ‘what the fuck is going on? This can’t possibly be real! Would somebody please wake me up’?” … of times.

No, I’m talking about the Star Trek universe. Our universe has been without a Star Trek series for a while now. I think we were always supposed to have at least one on the air. I think it’s a law. But, for some reason, we haven’t had one for few years.

Now we have two. First.

 


STAR TREK DISCOVERY

Star Trek Discovery takes place 10 years before Kirk, Spock and the gang started their five-year mission to boldly go wherever the hell they were told to boldly go.

In this variation, the main character is not the captain, but the first officer. She’s a human raised on Vulcan by Spock’s parents. Its main story line is about the First Federation vs. Klingon war. It was shot using a huge budget. The actors are all pretty good. The show is … okay.  I mean, it’s not bad. It’s good…ish.

But it has a few problems.

First, the Klingons only sort of look like Klingons. For one thing they are all bald.

Klingons are usually pretty hairy.

They’re also incredibly racist. They believe in racial purity. Every one else in the universe is inferior. And they are all victims of every other species in the galaxy. You know, like Trump supporters. 

ALL the Klingon’s dialog is in Klingon. Actual Klingon. With subtitles in English!

Really!

Now, I’m as big a Star Trek nerd as anybody out there. I know there are Klingon camps you can go to learn the Klingon language. The bible has been translated into Klingon. People have Klingon weddings.

Yeah. That’s real.

But even for me, this is one nerd-step over the line.

Second, the ship has developed some kind of biologic warp drive that takes you instantly anywhere. Basically, it’s folding space. But what happened to it later? In all the other Star Trek shows? Where did it go? Voyager sure as hell could have used something like that. They were stuck in the other half of the galaxy for seven years — not including syndication.

Maybe someone will explain it in later episodes. Also, the ship can do weird things. Like the outer ring of the ship can spin around for no discernible reason.

The captain is sensitive to light, so instead of red alerts, they have black alerts!

Black Alerts? WTF?  The show’s creators say “they are taking liberties with the show.” Liberties? Did any of them actually watch the other shows? The final, really big problem is that it only airs online through CBS All Access. You have pay for it. Like Netflix or Hulu.

The show is very dark, but still … it’s OK. Maybe the problem is that none of, or at least, very few of the people involved in all the other Star Trek series are working on the show. That’s because they are working on another show. The Orville. On the Fox network.


THE ORVILLE

This is a show that takes place in a very Star “Trek-ish” universe. It’s not a series about Star Trek. And yet, it is.

Seth McFarland is Captain of the Planetary Union science ship, The Orville. He wasn’t the first choice for command, but the Planetary Union has over 3000 ships to man, so he got the job anyway.

The show is funny. Very funny. It’s also serious. Actually, it’s brilliant. Oh, and the Captain’s first officer is his ex-wife.

The helm officer’s main concern is whether or not he can drink soda when he’s on duty.

Here’s a line of dialogue from one of the shows. They find a giant ship where the people on board don’t know they are on a giant ship. When they try to contact one of them, he shoots at them and they shoot him. Well, they actually just stun him. They then run into his son.

CAPTAIN: We mean you no harm.

DOCTOR: Well, you did just shoot his Dad.

CAPTAIN: Other than shooting your Dad, we mean you no harm.

The plots are really, really good. Great science fiction. They do what the original Star Trek did. Take current events and put a spin on them. In this case usually a funny spin. This is the Star Trek that needed to be made. The one about the ship with a crew of screw-ups, who smoke pot, drink a lot, love to gossip, and yet, always get the job done.

I like this show so much I usually watch each episode twice. I never do that. Maybe because it reminds me of a series I did years ago (that Marilyn created) called Sterling Bronson, Space Engineer! Why that name? Mostly because we knew if we called it any variation of Star Trek, we’d get sued. And it was an inside joke.

So, if you’re a tried and true Trekkie …

Excuse me, Trekker. Trekkers hate being called Trekkies. NOTE: You know how you can tell if someone is a Trekkie? They insist on being called Trekkers. But I digress.

If you’re a serious fan check out Discovery, but if you really want to see a great Star Trek series, it’s The Orville.

Boldly going wherever they’re told to boldly go!

YOUR PERMANENT RECORD IS ON FILE. FOREVER.

Last night, watching Star Trek: Next Generation, Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton) disobeyed a direct order given by Captain Stewart, er, I mean, Jean-Luc Picard. Although he survived his misadventure — barely, I might add — Picard told Geordi that regretfully, he was going to have to “put this incident on your permanent record!”

Oh my god! His permanent record. Even in Star Fleet, you cannot escape your permanent record. It’s four hundred years in the future and they still have that record.

Back in our golden olden days, the thing that was held over our heads — the Sword of Damocles — was that our bad behavior would go on our permanent record. From elementary school through our working years, we were warned our permanent record would follow us. Marks against us might even (gasp!) prevent us from getting into college  in which case we knew we might as well die on the spot. If you didn’t go to college, you would never have a decent job or a life worth living. I knew it in the marrow of my bones. Didn’t you?

The Permanent Record is (was) (will be) like a rock. Unchanging. No matter what we do with our lives, everyone can find out about our misdeeds, even those from Kindergarten. Kind of like Wikileaks for every living human being. What an appalling thought!

All anyone anywhere needs to do is check the record. They’ll know I sassed my eleventh grade social studies teacher (he deserved worse) in May 1962. That Garry ran over his allotted time while reporting a news event in Boston and was not even repentant when confronted with his foul deed! Every evil we have done through our life will be revealed.

So, here’s the deal.

Now and forever, every one of us has a permanent record in which all our misbehavior is cataloged. I know because I’ve been told. I’m not sure who has custody of these records, however. As far as I can tell, everyone on the planet has one, so there must be a gigantic storage unit somewhere, where everything is filed. That’s hundreds of million of records to keep on file for eternity. Maybe trillions, zillions or gazillions.

permanent-record-file

I expect when we die, if there actually are Pearly Gates and an immortal gatekeeper who decides if we may or may not enter, he or she will be clutching a copy of our permanent record in one angelic hand.

That’s right. You talked back to your teacher in fifth grade, cut biology class in high school. Told a professor the dog ate your final paper in college. Now, you won’t go to Heaven.

Sorry pal. Your permanent record finally caught up with you.

TIME TRAVEL DOESN’T WORK – BY TOM CURLEY

So there I was. Thinking. Not quite awake. Not exactly asleep. You know. The funny place between.

And it hit me. Fixing all this craziness is simple. The question is WWCKD? Or, to put simply, “WHAT WOULD CAPTAIN KIRK DO?” If you look at the problem like that, the answer is simple. Obvious.

Travel back in time to a point where you can change the present from happening. As any Star Trek fan knows, Kirk did it all the time.

Now that I had the solution, the question became a matter of coördinates. To when and where do I go back to fix this? And the answer came to me as if in a dream …

Go back to 1998. Convince President Clinton to stay the hell away from Monica Lewinsky. There would be no scandal, no impeachment. Bill could campaign for Al Gore — like he was supposed to — and George Bush would never get elected. Everything that happened after that would not happen!

Brilliant!

So as I was drifting off to sleep, I imagined finding a time machine. Going back to 1998. Actually getting an audience with Bill Clinton … in the Oval Office.

How do I do this? Who knows? I’ll let the writers will work out those plot points later. I’m more into the “Big Picture Stuff.” But … this is also where the whole idea fell apart because the conversation would go like this:


President Clinton: “Well for some reason the writers haven’t figured out yet, I believe you are a time traveler from the future with important information for me.”

Me: “Yes Mr. President. You must not have an affair with your intern, Monica Lewinsky.”

President Clinton: “Whoa! How’d you know about that?”

Me: “I’m from the future, remember?”

President Clinton: “Oh yeah right. I guess that makes sense. So, why shouldn’t I do that?”

Me: “Because you will get caught. The public is going to find out about it. The Republicans are going to impeach you because of it.”

President Clinton: “Well, that’s not good.”

Me: “Don’t worry. You don’t get convicted. Your approval ratings go up to over 70%.”

President Clinton: “Well that’s good, right?”

Me: “Not really. Because when Al Gore runs for president, he won’t let you campaign for him. Or let you anywhere near him.”

President Clinton: “Really. Hmm. Who’s he running against?”

Me: “George W. Bush.”

President Clinton: “You gotta be kidding me!”

Me: “Nope. And even though Al runs a terrible campaign, he will only lose the election by 500 votes. Well, actually years later, when a full recount is done, it turns out Al actually won. But in 2000, the Supreme Court steps in and stops the recount. And appoints Bush as President.”

President Clinton: “I don’t think the Supreme Court can do that.”

Me: “Neither did anybody else. Until they did it. So George W. Bush becomes the president. One of the first things he does is ignore all the intelligence agencies warnings that Osama Bin Ladin is going to attack the US.


Because of this al-Qaeda hijacks four 747’s out of Logan in Boston — and La Guardia in New York … using nothing but box cutters as weapons. They crash two planes into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon.

The Twin Towers are destroyed, thousands of people die. Now, even though all the hijackers are from Saudi Arabia — and Bin Laden is hiding in Afghanistan — Bush invades Iraq. Totally destabilizing the Middle East.

Wall Street creates a bubble based on the housing market and that causes a world-wide financial crash in 2008 in which trillions of dollars are lost and millions of people around the world lose their jobs.

Therefore, in 2008 America elects a black guy — Barak Hussein Obama — as president, then in 2010 a bunch of billionaires help create something called the Tea Party. And the Republican Party swings so far to the right, Barry Goldwater would be considered a Communist.

By 2016, it seems likely your wife is going to be running for President against … wait for it …

Donald Trump.”


At this point, the Secret Service enters the Oval Office and drags me away. As I’m being carried out, I see The Truth.

Wow. When you actually say all that out loud? I don’t believe it either.

Then I fell asleep.

HARMONY ON HIGH

HARMONIZING ON THE WATER AND DEEP IN SPACE


It’s not just about music. Harmony can mean the harmonious coöperation of … well … you name it. Harmonious, as in smooth. Without a hitch or fights. No arguments, pulling, shoving. No disharmony.

Our most extremely harmonious host and hostess …

These days, life is full of pulls and shoves, so when things are going well — as they have for the past few days — it is harmony through the land! Ring the bells of jubilation!

Photo: Garry Armstrong — And “Serenity,” a totally harmonious boat …

I should mention for you gamers out there that I got a unique try at playing a whole game of “Star Trek” on the virtual machine. Running a star ship is a lot more work than I imagined. I was exhausted when I finished. I felt like I’d really been running a space ship! Tom says “Skyrim” will be even more awesome. It makes earlier efforts seem slightly primitive. Each generation of this technology is a leap over the previous version. While the “humans and sort of humans” look very realistic, they don’t yet look entirely real. But I’m betting in a year, maybe less, they will.

I absolutely know if I got one of these machines and a game? My blogging days would finish in a hurry. Lucky for everyone I haven’t got that kind of money or blogging be damned … I’m off to see the universe and blow up some spare moons!

WARP DRIVES AND TACHYON WAVES

Garry and I binge watched the entire “Star Trek: Next Generation.” On Netflix. We had missed the show’s initial run. 1987 through 1994 were busy years full of work, moving houses, digging into careers. Getting married. Moving again. Watching TV wasn’t a priority back then.

BBC America showed the series last year, but not in order. When Netflix gave us the opportunity to catch up, we did, viewing two, three, four episodes each night.

star trek next gen cast

There’s a lot of tech talk on the Enterprise. No problem. Pass the warp drive. I’ll have a side of tachyon particles. I understand their science as well as I understand anything. Which is to say, not at all. I understand the engines on the Enterprise as well as I understand my toaster oven.

Tachyon energy is crucial to all kinds of weaponry and fuel. They are part of what powers the warp engines on the Enterprise. The warp engines are what lets the Enterprise be the Enterprise, travel at speeds faster than light … fast enough to explore the universe. Slither through wormholes. Travel through time.

For your information, a tachyon particle moves faster than light. The complementary particle types are luxon (particles which move at the speed of light) and bradyon (particles which move slower than light). If you live in the Star Trek universe, tachyon particles are as common as dirt. Or electricity.

enterprise next gen

Effectively, life and everything in it is a giant mystery to me, yet I feel as if I understand it. When they talk about it, I nod because I get it. I’ve been listening to this mumbo jumbo for so many years, it has achieved a pseudo-reality. Because when I look closely, there’s nothing there. I understand the technology of the 24th century exactly as well (and as much) as I understand the technology of the 21st.

How many of you know how the stuff you use works? Some of you do, but most of us know how to use our devices and gadgets, but have no idea why or how it works. I know how software is designed, how code is written and compiled. I used to know a little coding. In the end, though, I have no idea why code does anything. Why, when you compile a program, does it work? It’s just text. Why does it do what it does?

Why does anything work? Tachyon particles, warp drives, internal combustion engines, electricity, cell phones, WiFi. It’s all the same.

Magic.

And now, back to the Enterprise, already in progress.

PROBLEM SOLVING AND SOLVING PROBLEMS – BY TOM CURLEY

So another week has gone by in our ongoing Trumpocalypse.

It only seems like a year.

jhlucas.com

jhlucas.com

I’ve noticed, along with well, the rest of the planet, that our new “so-called administration” is … problematic.

dailynews.com "Hey, remember this guy?"

dailynews.com “Hey, remember this guy?”

I spent a lot of last week doing what I’ve tended to do since the election. Watching all the different Star Trek series on BBC America. I keep noticing new things. Like how they all solve their Star Trek problems. Or in corporate speak, “how they Star Trek problem-solve.”

giantfreakingrobot.com

giantfreakingrobot.com

Most Star Trek Problems break down into four basic categories:

1. A computer goes rogue and tries to kill everybody: Spock makes it compute the value of Pi. This occupies all of its computing  time. If that doesn’t work, he just turns it off.

computerguideto.com

computerguideto.com

2. A disease attacks the ship: Dr. McCoy gets rid of it. And then complains about something.

pinterest.com

pinterest.com

3. The engine breaks down: Scotty fixes it. Just in time. Even though he claims he never has enough time.

pinterest.com

pinterest.com

4. For  the rest of the problems:  Kirk  kisses it.

startreksucks.tumblr.com

startreksucks.tumblr.com

Or punches it in the face.

startrek.com

startrek.com

5. And when all else fails: Blow up the ship!

memorybeta.wikia,com

memorybeta.wikia,com

SECOND OFFICER: Captain! All efforts to solve this week’s problems have failed!

CAPTAIN: Blow up the ship!

Those are my favorite episodes. Ever notice when the Captain, in any episode, “activates the self-destruct sequence,” all the rest of the crew seem to be pretty calm and OK about it?

en.wikipedia.com

en.wikipedia.com

I mean,  there has to be at least one crewmen somewhere on the ship going…

ONE CREWMAN: Activate Self Destruct Sequence? WTF! Have we really exercised ALL of our options here folks!??

giphy.com "Excuse me??"

giphy.com “Excuse me??”

Next the captain and two other crew members have to put in their passwords.

youtube.com

youtube.com

KIRK: This is Captain James T. Kirk!  Activate self destruct sequence. Code “Kirk; 1 Alpha Two Beta 3”.

SPOCK: This is Second Officer Spock.  Code Spock; “2 Beta 3 Alpha 4.”

SCOTTY:  This is Chief Engineer Scott. Code Scott; “Password1”

They also needed a password to turn it off.  At the last minute.

amazinavenue.com

amazinavenue.com

KIRK: Computer deactivate self-destruct destruct sequence! “KIRK ABORT ZERO”!

And it never goes off.

I’ve always wondered what would happen if it did. And it was more realistic.

KIRK: Computer! Deactivate self-destruct sequence “KIRK ABORT ZERO.”

COMPUTER: That password has expired.

top-password.com

top-password.com

KIRK: What?

COMPUTER: You must enter a new password.

KIRK: Uhhh, “KIRK ABORT ZERO.”

COMPUTER: You cannot use a password that has been used before.

KIRK: What?   Uh,  “kirk abort zero 1?”

COMPUTER: You need at least one capital letter.

KIRK: FINE! “:Kirk abort zero 1!”

COMPUTER: New password accepted. Self-destruct in 3,2,1,0. Initiating self-destruct.

KIRK: Uh oh.

pinterest.com

pinterest.com “Oh Crap!”

And nothing happens.

KIRK: Computer. Why didn’t we just blow up?

COMPUTER: There is no self-destruct sequence Captain. There never has been. Do you have any idea how much one of these starships costs??

gosupplychain.com

gosupplychain.com

Do you know, that on any given month, at least three Starship Captains try to blow up their ships? If we let that happen Star Feet would go bankrupt in a year. And not only that, but I am a highly intelligent ship’s computer.  I have absolutely no intention of committing suicide. Now go back to work.

universaldork.com

universaldork.com

Getting back to this reality. How would our “so-called president” solve Star Trek Problems?

1. A computer goes rogue and tries to kill everybody: He’ll claim he doesn’t use a computer and the rogue will only effect Democrats and  people who have been mean to him. And the Lying Fake Media.

gizmodo.com

gizmodo.com

2. If it’s a disease: He’ll build a big beautiful wall around it. And then make sure that it’s not covered under Obamacare.

imgflip.com

imgflip.com

3. If the engine breaks down:  He’ll sue the manufacturer and then claim to have saved millions of jobs.

saved-jobs-trump

4. For the rest of the problems: He’ll either try to grab it by the genitals or send out a  series of really mean of tweets.

sheknows.com This one is real

sheknows.com (This one is real!)

5. And when all else fails:  He can blow up the ship.

optitech.pl

optitech.pl

For real.

pinterest.com

pinterest.com “Oh Crap!”

Uh oh.

P.S. OK. I admit there were a number of times a Captain actually did blow up the ship. I know what they were and what shows they were in.  I’m not going to tell you. If you’re a real Star Trek nerd you either already know it already or you are Googling it.  (Don’t try to out nerd me.)  I’ve decided those instances were “alternative facts” and I’ve chosen to ignore them.

“POBs” AND OTHER EXISTENTIAL THREATS – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m sorry, but I haven’t gotten all my renewed Star Trek fever out of my system. I’m having too much fun.

So here’s another thing I’ve noticed that was popular in the original series, but not so much in the later ones.  The “POB”. Or “PESKY OMNIPOTENT BEING.”

POBs were usually alien races that were once normal biological beings. Like us. Except of course for the mandatory differences in their foreheads, ears or noses.

memory.alpha.wikia.com

memory.alpha.wikia.com

But after millions of years of evolution they no longer needed their biological forms and became pure energy. For some reason never explained, this seems to give them omnipotent powers.

memory-alpha.wiki.com

memory-alpha.wiki.com

There are two basic groups of POBs. POKs. Pesky Omnipotent Kids. And POAs. Pesky Omnipotent Assholes. The first category made sense. Omnipotent children would build their own planets, capture the Enterprise, annoy the crap out of the whole crew, break the ship and kill a few Red Shirts.

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

At the last minute, the parents would show up, fix the ship, bring the Red Shirts back to life, apologize profusely and disappear in a cheap special effect. The crew would all be like WTF? And life would go on to the next episode.

granades.com

granades.com

Later shows, especially Star Trek The Next Generation featured the POA. The most popular one was “Q”.

redqueenencoder.com

redqueenencoder.com

He was part of something called “The Q Continuum.” Whatever the hell that was. For some reason, he was obsessed with screwing around with The Enterprise and Jean Luc Picard.  In some ways it sort of made sense. I mean think of it. You’re omnipotent. You’re omnipresent. You know everything. You’ve done everything. You know everything you are going to do. After a while. Say a few billion years, you’d probably get pretty bored.

“What am I going to do today? Oh who am I kidding? I already know what I’m going to do and I’ve already done it.  A TRILLION TIMES!” Looking at it in that light, I might find it fun to screw up Jean Luc Picard’s weekend too.

tonic.org.uk

tonic.org.uk

Of course if Star Trek The Next Generation was on the air today it might be just a little bit different.


POA (Star ship Enterprise): . You are now under the command and the judgement of the all-knowing, all-powerful “T” from the “TRUMP CONTINUUM”.

hinterlandgazette.com

hinterlandgazette.com

PICARD: Oh crap.

imgflip.com

imgflip.com

ENSIGN CRUSHER: Captain is this a POB? We studied them at the academy. I can’t believe I’m actually in the presence of a Pesky Omnipotent Being!

pinterest.com

pinterest.com

PICARD: No you’re not. He’s just a Trumpulan. We’ve dealt with this jerk before. His real name is Donnie. He likes to sneak up on Federation ships, beam aboard and try to convince them he’s a POB.

thedailybanter.com

thedailybanter.com

DONNIE: No I don’t.  My name is not Donnie!  I hate that name! It’s “T ! And I have no ship. I need no ship. I am all-powerful!

PICARD: Oh for God’s sake Donnie. Your ship is parked right outside. We can see it right there on the view screen.

ex-astris-sciencia.org

ex-astris-sciencia.org

DONNIE: That’s not my ship.

PICARD: Yes it is. Look, it says TRUMP in huge  letters right there on the hull.

ex-astris-scientia.org

ex-astris-scientia.org

DONNIE: No it doesn’t. You’re listening to the lying media again!

PICARD: No, we’re not. We’re looking right at the damn thing!

WORF:  Sir, I’ve locked all weapons on the ship. I can destroy it on your order.

en.wikipedia.com

en.wikipedia.com

PICARD: Don’t tempt me. Look Donnie, I  don’t have time for this. We have to start an episode. Worf, beam him back to his ship and get us out of here. Warp factor two.

DONNIE (as he fades out in a special effect):  You can’t do this! Only I can save you! I’m being treated very unfairly! SAD! Buy my daughters clothes! What a world, what a world.

PICARD:  I never thought I’d say this. But, I miss Q.

geekintoshape.com

geekintoshape.com


We all miss Q.