“I Must Leave This Planet or Lose My Mind”

In lieu of the usual music-type video, I thought I’d offer a different sort of distraction for this Friday evening…

I’ve seen a lot of Star Wars parody videos over the years. I mean, a lot. There are nearly as many of those silly things out there on the InterWebs as there are cat videos. But every once in a while, one comes along that is truly sublime in its creativity, its unique take on the source material, and yes, its side-splitting, coffee-spewing, tear-inducing hilariousness. My buddy Robert sent me one such gem today, which re-imagines several key scenes from The Empire Strikes Back as a Spanish-language telenovela, and the results are… well, just take a look:

Ah, man. I’ve watched this half a dozen times this afternoon, and I’m still laughing. But you know… seeing Our Heroes as, ahem, young and horny only highlights how deeply unhappy I am with what becomes of them in The Force Awakens. One of these weekends, I’ve got to clear my calendar and write up exactly what I thought of that movie…

But it probably won’t be this weekend. I may post some more in the next 48 hours, but I’ve got other subjects in the chute ahead of my TFA review. In the meantime, have a good one, kids. Hope you have some nice spring weather to enjoy.


Yakety Max

As my Loyal Readers no doubt recall, I wasn’t overly keen on Mad Max Fury Road, a position that put me at odds with many friends as well as much of the Internet in general. My biggest issue with the film — aside from my utter boredom with Tom Hardy in the title role — was that I found it too over the top compared to the (relative) plausibility of the original Max films starring Mel Gibson.

However, every film buff knows that music has a tremendous influence over how an audience responds to the images on the screen. The marriage of the visual with the proper musical selection can raise a lump in your throat, coax the tears from your eyes, chill you to your core, or lift your heart all the way to heaven. A good film score can make the mundane soar… or the outrageous seem entirely natural. For example, witness how much better Fury Road would’ve worked with a, ahem, somewhat different soundtrack:

Tip of the chrome-studded leather hat to… yes, that Heavy Metal, or at least the magazine it was based on, now living online like all the other detritus from my misspent youth…


How Do You Feel?

I do a lot of fretting/grumbling/navel-gazing here — well, everywhere, really — about getting older, feeling older, fearing I’ve lost touch with popular culture, being past my prime… hey, you’ve read the posts. But something occurred to me this morning:

In recent years, I’ve lost a lot of the weight I unwisely stacked on in my thirties.

Thanks to my LASIK surgery two weeks ago, I have my original, un-bespectacled face back.

In the next few months, we’ll be seeing a new Mad Max film, a new Jurassic Park film, a new Terminator, another Mission: Impossible, and, lest we forget, a new Star Wars episode.

And of course next year’s presidential election will likely be between a Clinton and a Bush.

You see where I’m going with this?

It’s like I’m young again!

Either that, or suffering a massive case of deja vu.


So What the Heck WAS Spock Looking At, Anyhow?

[Ed. Note: This post is going to be a little on the self-indulgent side — okay, a lot — and all in service of a punchline that’s probably not nearly as funny as I think it is, so I apologize in advance.]

I really like the current look of my blog, with one exception: when you’re looking at the home page, with its long scroll of recent entries, there’s nothing to indicate whether anyone has commented on any of those entries unless you actually go into the individual entry page. Consequently, I wonder if people don’t realize there’s more going on “in the back room,” so to speak, and are missing out on things that get said there. (Not that there’s ever much going on back there these days; Simple Tricks isn’t quite the happening place it used to be, sadly. A topic for another time perhaps.)

In any event, there was an exchange in the comments on my last entry, the one about running across the tribute to Nimoy in the report I was proofreading, that I thought was pretty funny and ought to be more widely seen.

Basically, after I remarked that the tribute wasn’t such a surprise after all, given that the report’s writers were IT people (i.e., nerds), and that Nimoy had made quite an impact, my friend Jaren came back with, “The grouch in me thinks that his impact on IT will be minimal until we figure out just what he was looking at in his blue monitor box on the bridge. And until I get one myself.”

What Jaren is talking about is, of course, the viewing device that Spock was frequently seen examining at his bridge station on the original Star Trek, which I would say is probably one of the iconic visuals of that series, right up there with the Enterprise firing her main phasers:


As Jaren suggests, we never saw what it was Spock was looking at in there, or what this viewing device did that was any different or better than a simple monitor screen built into the console would be capable of. It was presumably some sort of computer interface or radar-type scanning scope (or both), as Spock would look into it and then recite some useful information. (Remember, the original series was made at a time when CRT-style monitors were enormous things, and nobody had any idea what an actual computer interface looked like anyhow, so I imagine this little personal viewer thingie must’ve seemed pretty futuristic.) But we never actually knew.

This has led to a lot of mildly risque jokes over the years about Spock surreptitiously watching dancing girls, old-fashioned peep shows, or even out-and-out porn (and this started years before watching porn at work became a real-world problem– once again, Star Trek predicted the future!). There’s even a clever (but in my opinion too long and kinda tedious) YouTube video suggesting that Facebook still exists in the 23rd century… and is as big a distraction as ever.

But I believe all these theories are completely up in the night. Like I told Jaren, we all know what he’s really watching in that thing, don’t we?

Yeah, okay, too much setup for something that maybe isn’t that funny. But hey, it amused me. And after the day I’ve had today, and the week I anticipate having starting tomorrow… well, I’ll take whatever amusement I can bloody well get…


Tales of a Sunday Afternoon

I was at Costco with Anne — who did not have to work a full eight-hour day after all, as it turns out — when she abruptly stopped in the middle of an aisle with a confused expression.

Me: What is it?

Anne (pointing to a fancy car-window ice scraper with a curved handle): “At first glance, I thought that was a Klingon bat’leth.”

< pause >

Me: You really have been around me too long, haven’t you?



Tales of a Sunday Morning

So, this just happened at the Bennion Compound:

Anne: I have to go to work.

Me: Do you have to put in a full eight hours, or ten, or what?

Anne: I have no idea, I’ll find out when I get there.

Me: Well, it’s all right either way. I’ll be here. Right here. Waiting  for you. You know, like Richard Marx.

< pause >

Anne: You are such a dork.



Space Nerd Humor


Trust me, this is very funny. And after the week we had last week in space-travel news, a little levity is called for.

(Oh, all right, for those who don’t get it: The Apollo retroreflectors are essentially mirrors that were left behind on the lunar surface by the Apollo astronauts. If you bounce a laser beam off them, you can measure very precisely the distance from the Earth to the Moon. They’re also a nice refutation for all the crackpot theories that the Apollo missions were faked, because the mirrors are there, and their locations are known. If you can get a hold of a powerful enough laser, you too can do a little rangefinding of your own. And if the retroreflectors weren’t placed there by astronauts, where did they come from, hmmmm?)


How to Get My Readers Back

I’ll be honest, I’ve fretted quite a bit in the months since getting this blog back online about whether or not anybody was still reading the thing. It’s a bit of a ghost town around here compared to the way it used to be, recent entries notwithstanding. So when I saw this cartoon somewhere the other day… well, it resonated:


If only I’d known it was so easy to generate feedback!


Aren’t You a Little Short for a Superhero?

Let’s lighten the mood for a moment, shall we? Here’s something our blogging colleague Jaquandor posted the other day that may prove amusing and/or informative:


I am somewhat chagrined to learn I am the same height as Black Widow, which is way down on the low end of the heroic spectrum. I’m a good head shorter than all the really cool guys, certainly. I’d find myself looking eye-to-collarbone with Peter Quill and Steve Rogers, and eye-to-nipple with everybody’s favorite hunk of manly beefcake, Thor. Which I guess would consign me to sidekick status, or at least stick me with the second-tier heroes, the ones who never get their own solo books or movies. (Not counting Wolverine, of course.)

I’ve been looking up at my friends my whole damn life, so I guess this is nothing new. And being at eye level with the Widow — played so deliciously in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by one of the sexiest actresses currently working, the lovely Scarlett Johansson — might have certain advantages. It would make slow-dancing with her easier than with Mystique or Storm, for example. And in any event, I’m still taller than that pipsqueak Logan!


Occupational Hazards

So I’m at work just now, reading along in a case study about some technological solution to a problem I don’t really have, when I run across this phrase:

Sensors can also alert transporters…

And it took me a second to process that the rest of the sentence has nothing to do with Star Trek. Seriously.

I tell you, it’s tough sometimes for a nerd. And for the record, yes, I did hear those words in the unique cadence of Leonard Nimoy. Sen-sores.