Archive for November, 2001

Strange New Series

Saturday, November 10th, 2001

The zendom page is more informative now, with cool graphics. Thanks, Liz!

Here’s my review, with her permission, of Liz’s review of “Strange New World”:

Zeroth, First and Second Impressions:

Liz starts out by observing the Deja Vu Phenomenon - Trek series ripping off other Trek series (and Babylon 5, where appropriate). It’s nice to see “Resolutions” in the list; that sleeper of an episode has to be good for something. Otherwise, the Deja Vu is more a TNG thing than a general Trek thing. Like TNG, ENT is competing with TOS on its own turf, so there should be plenty more where this came from.


Liz seems to have drifted into another series, so I’ll translate for her: TPTB are evil! Evil I tell you! Don’t get sucked into the T/Tu thing. You know Braga is going to pull an A/T in the series finale. Are you going to waste the next seven years writing masterpieces of T/Tu fic? Walk away now, before you get bitter and old.

Deja Shatner:

Liz, are you complaining that Archer is pawing the ladies and overacting? Trek is TOS, TOS is Trek. Oh, sorry, you said overreacting…never mind then.

Phlox in Sox:

What do you mean Phlox isn’t original? I’m failing to see the Neelix connection here. I think Phlox is his own alien, and the best I’ve seen in a long time. And yes, we need a Phlox episode, or at least some Phlox fic.


Are you saying Blalock can’t act? I think you’re straying into truisms here. It’s like Jim saying “Chakotay was wooden again this week.” Trek is not about acting; just look what happened when they put a real actor in the role of Seven of Nine - it was the end of the ensemble cast. As long as Blalock remains on the acting level of Shouting Spock, the show has a chance.

And what’s all this about “distinctively Vulcan”? Which of the Vulcans on ENT are distinctively Vulcan? To say she’s poorly written is another truism. The truth is, the writers are flailing around like a squirting garden hose. T’Pol is doomed to be the star, because only aliens, half-aliens and captains can be interesting in Trek.

Someone who is naturally interesting despite his humanity is Tucker, though Liz seems to imply otherwise. He is mid-VOY Tom Paris back from the Delta Quadrant, and I liked him psychotic. But he was still Tucker - there was nothing not nice about him in his psychotic stage. There was nothing very extreme, either - it was the same old anti-Vulcan paranoia. The whole series has been so non-Trek that making Tucker psychotic didn’t change anything. There can be no alien spores for these people, because they’re crazy already.

Unworthy Fanfic:

No, Elizabeth is not in love with T’Pol. Everyone hates T’Pol, and it’s going to be much, much worse in the series finale when she runs off with Archer, leaving Tucker carrying her Pon Farr love-child.

Bow Wow:

Yeah! Porthos! And yes it was a shame about Tom. Why don’t you go read MJB’s Revolution for Tom Paris the way he should have been? I’ll hold down the fort here until you get back…

B Movie:

More truisms here - competent without the flair. And three to four years? Voyager fell apart after three years - oh, wait, that’s the BOFQ time frame. Never mind. But things are going to get worse. The writers are headed straight into a brick wall of the canon past - it’s not going to be little things like when the Borg were first discovered, it’s going to be huge issues like the Vulcans not being Vulcan. In three to four years, you won’t be able to see compence over the wreckage of the Alpha Quadrant. But that’s just doom and gloom.


I like the theme. Yes, like everything else in the series, it lacks the Trek look-and-feel, but that VOY intro got old fast. I spent the last two seasons complaining through the flight of Voyager to natty background music - think, just think of how many lines Chakotay could have had if they’d just skipped the interminable VOY intro. The whole forgotten trio of Chakotay, Tuvok and Neelix could have had proper character development in the time they wasted. At least the new intro has pretty pictures - if they’re more inspiring than the show itself, well, that’s Trek.

One thing I forgot to mention in my defense of sarcasm is the moral obligation to mock wickedness. All the more so if it’s petty squabbling BOFQ wickedness…

Sufficient Unto the Snark

Tuesday, November 6th, 2001

There comes a time in a working girl’s life when she has to decide, do I make lunch tonight or do I wait until morning? Do I iron en-masse and leave the clothes over the chair all week, or take it one day at a time? I’ve reached a decision on this vital matter: sufficient unto the day is the ironing therein.

Zendom is going well - we have an inactive website already at Diaryland. I was just mouthing off on the list about sarcasm:

I suspect, however, that [the distinction between humor and bashing] is a cultural difference I won’t be able to surmount. You see, sarcasm isn’t just joking around to me - it’s my native tongue. Where I come from, our attitude has always been: if you can’t say something amusing, you shouldn’t say anything at all. The purpose of any cultural artifact, whether Trek or criminal Rhode Island mayors or Microserf or fandom itself, is to provide material for smart remarks. While it may not be the apex of Western culture (then again, it may), sarcasm is very highly valued in my little subculture. As the scorpion said (in Jim’s review, at least), “it’s what I do.”

I still haven’t read the drafts on 31 or seen Buffy: The Musical!, because I went shopping tonight instead and got a nice pair of pants in my extraordinarily rare size for only $7.50. I love Filene’s Basement.

DQ Babes in the Mirror-Mirror Universe

Sunday, November 4th, 2001

DQ Babes in the Mirror-Mirror Universe is finally finished. It could stand some improvement, but the Twelve Moons of JuPiter deadline is today, so it’s not getting any. It also didn’t come out as campy as the title implies - my apologies to Liz. Many thanks to Jade, my hostile beta who hates J/P even more than she hates C/7 but still read the thing and made helpful comments.

Crosswinds has been back in business for a few days now, so all those old links in the J/C Index should work again. There are other things on the site that want fixing, like the site map which is currently hidden in the error pages, which are themselves only accessible on Freeshell. Another day…


Saturday, November 3rd, 2001

  Puppy: on
  Word of the day: aeon

One thing I forgot to mention about Parable of the Talents was how vast an improvement over The Handmaid’s Tale it was. Feminists are welcome to their nightmares, but if you want to share them with the rest of us, you’re obliged to try to make them somewhat plausible. Octavia Butler’s Christian America was a far more believable dystopic vision than the Taliban-like conditions in Margaret Atwood’s book.

I have the list of Hugo and Nebula Award-winning works from the Locus page, and it amazes me sometimes how many of them I disliked. The Mars trilogy has already been mentioned, but there’s also The Snow Queen and To Your Scattered Bodies Go.

I tried to read one of Catherine Asaro’s books, but I got only a few pages into it before I gave up and read Eon by Greg Bear instead. Now that was a good book–nice science, a light hand and a good pace. The characters were nothing special, and Greg Bear has a disturbing tendency to use young female protagonists whose actions are never properly motivated and whose lives are inevitably wasted in their formless flailing. (I’m generalizing from just two books here, the other being Moving Mars.)

Nevertheless, I liked the book–it made me want to sit down and write my own. That will do as a definition of a good book, since Hugo-award-winning is out.

The Ghost of J/C Past

Friday, November 2nd, 2001

A new plot has been added to the Borg Plot Classification, #26: The Ghost of J/C Past. This fanfic convention appears to have been founded by Liz Barr in Accessory to Fanfic.

The official Borg Plot Classification is housed in the moribund JetCWiki, where you can find examples of each standard J/C fanfic plot. The C/7 version is at Wikifection, the center for all things C/7. I also keep (maintain would be too strong a word) both a J/C and a C/7 Borg Plot Classification of my stories.

The Journals of Matthew Ricci

Friday, November 2nd, 2001

  Puppy: off
  Word of the day: zazen

I don’t have much to say, I just feel I’ve been neglecting the brog. I’ve been reading China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Matthew Ricci 1583-1610. I wanted to read the bits about memory palaces, but after checking the index I’m afraid they may not have been translated. Nevertheless, I’m reading the book for its sci-fi content. I fully expect the Chinese to be more alien than anything I’ve read in sf lately.

I picked up a couple of books from the library today, and I have a pile of Tor books from Buck-a-Book that I will get to someday. Catherine Asaro is first on the list, and I’m expecting a major disappointment. I suspect the new science she’s lauded for is as original as the usual aliens are alien. I shouldn’t be so pessimistic, but I am.


Friday, November 2nd, 2001

I’ve been learning about relative links. So far, I have them installed on Jade’s pages, including her new story Epiphany. Speaking of my lovely hostees, if you haven’t read MJB’s Revolution, then give it a try. It comes in easily-digested parts - ninety or so of them.

Sorry, I get distracted easily after midnight. Relative links: like the stylesheet link, relative links hide in the head of an html file. If you have a really, really smart browser like Lynx or Opera for Mac or iCab, it reads those links and makes a separate toolbar menu out of them - the standard stuff: up, next, previous, home, etc., all relative to your all-important site. It’s too cool…if it’s not in Opera for Microserfs yet, it will be soon.

The DMV Rant

Thursday, November 1st, 2001

Today I went to the RMV (also known as the DMV). Twice.

The first time they turned me away because I hadn’t brought my social security card. The RMV website went into excruciating detail (in a huge PDF) about what sorts of documents to bring to verify your residence in Massachusetts, your signature, your birthdate, your star sign…but it didn’t mention that the governor has demanded you show up with your social security card in hand.

For the Aussies in the audience, a social security card is a little scrap of paper with your social security number printed on it by a dot matrix printer with an old ribbon. You can still see the perforations, not to mention my signature from when I was nine years old - like that verifies anything.

Come to think of it, when the woman at the front desk was blaming my wasted trip on our lovely governor (the first governor ever to give birth in office), I believe she mentioned that Governor Swift had made the new rule on September 11th. So now I don’t even get to gripe about how they promised us that social security numbers would never be used for identification purposes. Sigh.

Well, I got back at the RMV - I cheated on the eye exam. Yes, put on that yellow shirt and you too can pass the Kobiyashi Maru… I didn’t break the rules, I did an end-run around them. The story goes a little like this:

Back when I was a young, innocent driver in Rhode Island, they had an eye chart on the wall and you read it, and if you could see, you got a license. But it’s not so simple in the big states.

When I moved to Connecticut, everything was high-tech - they have a fancy hologram thing on the license to keep minors from forging Connecticut licenses. There’s a funky eye test that looks like an overgrown View-Master. One eye gets one picture, and the other eye gets another. Of course, I didn’t know this walking into the CT DMV in Wethersfield for the first time. It wasn’t until the guy asked me twice to read the rest of the line of letters that I figured it out. So I peeked out of my backup eye and read the rest of the line.

I’ve been living in Boston for over two years, but it is only now that my CT license is expiring. When I got (back) to the Boston RMV, I was prepared. They had the same View-Masters, and I did the same thing. Score one against the RMV. Now if they’d only charge $15 like in Rhode Island instead of $70…

This probably doesn’t make any sense to you unless you’re as old as I am and you have a lazy eye that wasn’t brought up properly in your childhood, so is still lazy. It’s a zen eye - it sees all, but is usually unaffected by it (unless I make an effort to focus on what it sees, because I want a driver’s license so I can buy Guinness).

Don’t worry, I don’t drive - the streets of Boston are still safe for pedestrians.

Lego update: A zendomite (reminds me of corbomite) pointed me to the blog where I found the Lego links: common street trash.

Opera Bathos, Lego Pathos

Thursday, November 1st, 2001

I have a new copy of Opera for the Mac - yet another beta, released at the last minute when the previous beta had already expired in Australia. It’s not a big improvement so far. I think Beta 4 is a bit much - there’s an alphabet metaphor behind that beta thing, people…alpha, beta, gamma, how about a final product already? They’ve incorporated ads already, so I think they’ve pulled ahead of iCab in the race to build a better browser.

I’ve been out surfing the blogs again, and I ran across The Brick Testament, Bible stories told in Lego?. The pathos of The Flood was truly moving, though the dialogue dragged a bit. I loved the little touches, like the sheep in the first scene, the woman holding her baby up over the water, and the blanched corpses after the waters receeded. Take a look…

Zen fandom: The sound of one fan griping

Thursday, November 1st, 2001

Zendom is off to a roaring start, which is why I’m still up at this hour figuring out the little details of Yahoo!group administration and answering email from Australians, who are all wide awake and upside-down when New Englanders are sleepy and right side up. What the world really needs is more Australians - and a few more Brazilians wouldn’t hurt, either. There are plenty already, but they mind their own business and don’t bother anybody, so you don’t really notice.

Let’s see…I did actually have something to say. Oh, zendom is open to all comers, all fandoms, provided they read the BOFQ essay and get over it.