Soon To Be Classics

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Real Men of Genius

The best thing about summer to me is the return of the Real Men of Genius commercials that Bud Light runs on the bigger radio stations. These things are like 10 years old now and almost never cease to make me laugh out loud. The new ones I have heard this year are "Mr. Bug Zapper Inventor", "Mr. Memorial Day Grill Lighter" and "Mr. Afraid of the Water". A quick note of trivia, the rock singer that provides the background vocals is none other than David Bickler, the former lead singer of the 80's rock band Survivor.

You can hear many of the older ones at Make sure you hear "Mr. Silent Gas Passer". It still makes me laugh so hard I cry.

Monday, May 16, 2005

You Can't Go Home Again

Have you ever had a point in your life where you realize that everything that you know is irrevocably changed? That no matter how much you might wish it otherwise, things HAVE changed and what you know and experience moving forward will be different from what has already transpired?

I don't think I have had many of those moments in my life. Of course, every day is technically just such a point but the changes are minute and barely noticed. Rather, it's that last mournful look as you move out of a familiar house or apartment. You will never live there again. Or a final glance at an old, yet comfortable car on the lot as you drive away in the new one.

Today was such a moment for me, as two friends packed away their personal items and left the office for the last time. They were let go a few days ago but their desks still contained personal affects like pictures, name plates, and coffee mugs. It wasn't "real" on Thursday or Friday. Today, it was. And I knew in finality that coming into the office would never be what it was.

They face challenges and adventures. Of course, I wish nothing but the best for all of my friends who were recently let go. I sometimes feel like I shouldn't be so upset for myself. After all, I still have a job. That makes me selfish but not unfeeling.

So moving forward, everyone will adjust to the change and eventually settle into a new form of normalcy. The pain of the past will fade and the fonder memories will bubble to the surface. The old axiom of "stop and smell the roses" is absolutely true. Because what you know and love today could be gone, or at least different tomorrow.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

All Good Things

I watched the final episode of Enterprise today and was surprised how I responded to it. Yes, it represents the end of four seasons of low-rated, reconstituted Trek drama to which many will no doubt applaud. It also means that for the first time in 18 years, there will be no new Trek on tv. The merits of that notion are yet to be determined.

As I reflected on it, I was saddened. Enterprise started out with somewhat of a bang and viewers were drawn to it. It's sad to say that most couldn't get past the theme song but to each his own. The first season sloshed around a bit looking for the "big three" to anchor the viewer's interest but following Next Gen's lead, tried to make stars out of every character. It worked in Next Gen, barely, but didn't work here. The second season was just awful with the Andorian episodes excepted.

But third season started off strong with a season long arc dealing with a terrorist attack on Earth. By then, it was too late for many and not enough people were interested enough to give it another try. Season three ended with Archer and crew saving Earth from the Xindi, only to end up in Earth's past (circa WWII) with the odd addition of alien Nazis. Even the most jaded fan gave a Vulcan one eyebrow raise.

Fourth season's conclusion to that storyline was not terribly satisfying but a lot was happening behind the scenes. For one, the per-episode budget was cut in half to $800,000. It didn't look promising. But what did happen that was amazing, was the introduction of Manny Coto. This fan-turned-writer was brought on board to "introduce Enterprise into the Trek continuity". And he did that in spades. Every episode began to weave the threads from TOS. We met the Orions and the Orion men (later to learn it was they who are the slaves). We saw the beginning of the Federation between the Vulcans, Telarites, Andorians and Earth. Journey To Babel, anyone?

And then, the big one. Enterprise got their Mirror, Mirror episode. Oh my God. Tying directly into a loose thread from the TOS episode The Tholian Web, the mirror crew of the Enterprise got their hands on the USS Defiant (Constitution Class, not the powerhouse from DS9 days) after it disappeared from our universe, almost taking Kirk with it. Seeing a Constitution Class ship from TOS kicking ass with modern-day special effects was amazing. As a fan, this was far more exciting to me than anything I'll see in Star Wars Episode III this week. The two part story was fabulous and each member of the crew took obvious delight in their roles.

The next two episodes were also tying into the TOS continuity. Colnel Green was once identified in TOS as a genocidal madman who caused the deaths of millions of people after WW III. In this episode, we get to see a little of him as well as the movement that spawned from his campaign. It was a classic Trek story of bigotry but also rang true with elements of modern-day isolation, as each country in our era struggles with the integration of new cultures. Again, not a great episode, but well done.

But today was the finale. The final episode was a one-shot that for some reason aired after the second part of Terra Prime although it had no tie. The effort seemed to be to make it a "Night of Trek". This was not originally to be the finale but rather the season ender. The stunt casting involved the inclusion of Counsellor Troi and Commander Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis, almost pulled off looking like they did over 10 years ago where this episode supposedly fits in. It was designed to be a Next Gen episode that uses the holodeck to look back on the final mission of the Enterprise NX-01 before it was decommissioned. Archer and crew, it's revealed, had 10 years of adventures so there's a hole of 6 years. Riker is, as usual, wasting time on the holodeck, struggling to figure out if disobeying a direct order is wise and looking at something that Tripp did as an example. It was a weak plot, sure, and required you to really be a knowledgeable Trek fan to piece it together. Still, it wasn't bad and it was fun to see Enterprise tie into TNG. I won't give away the ending as there's a huge loss which surprised me. It does end, with the official forming of the Federation, something that Trek fans always took for granted but never saw before know. The finale ends with beauty shots of the 1701-D, 1701, and NX-01. The familiar "Space..the final frontier" is divided up between Picard, Kirk and Archer. Good company to be in.

So now, there's no more Trek. I once read in a TV Guide that a critic was describing the sadness you feel when a show is cancelled that you never watch. It's comforting to know it's on each week, even though you rarely see it. I lost interest in DS9 and Voyager both but it was comforting to know that Trek was still there when I was ready. I didn't miss an episode of Enterprise in the last two years, but now it's gone as well. All that is and was in the Star Trek universe has been done. There's talk of more movies, and probably future TV shows but no one really knows that at this point. It was great to get just a little bit more of Troi and Riker and even a new bit of Data, although it was just over the comm. But for all of the characters we've grown to know and love in Trek, their last lines have been spoken. We've lost Kirk, and Data, Sisko and (won't give a spoiler), Jadzia Dax, and a couple of dozen guys in red shirts. Sarek, Spock's father, died (on TV) the same week that my father died. It was hard not to blur the lines. All will be missed.

It was a good run. Overall, I enjoyed it immensely and it changed my life. Here's hoping that our real future is as much fun.

To blog or not to blog

I would be willing to bet that title has been entered thousands of times on the Internet "Blogosphere". I set up my blog originally at the behest of a good friend, made one post, and then did nothing else with it.

That same friend was just laid off along with a number of other good friends. Not having his personal email address, I went to his blog to see how he was doing. I wasn't disappointed. Sure enough, his latest blog entry drifted into the realm of therapy with friends stopping by to wish him well and offer help. So it seems like there's something cleansing and healing about this form of expression. I spent 17 years in radio on stations that pretty much let me say what I wished. Now that I no longer have that outlet, perhaps it's time for some new way to post my inane observations on the world.

So for all of you reading (and I hope there's at least a few), you're the doctor and I'm just getting comfortable on your couch.

Let the therapy begin.