Monday, September 25, 2017

Discovering Discovery

SPOILERS for the first two episodes of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

After a dozen years, Star Trek returned to television last night in its newest incarnation, Star Trek: Discovery. Set ten years before the events of the original television series, Discovery is the story of Michael Burnham, (Sonequa Martin-Green), a Starfleet officer and orphan raised on Vulcan by none other than Sarek (James Frain), father of Spock.

When we're introduced to Burnham in the first episode, "The Vulcan Hello," she's serving as the First Officer of the USS Shenzhou under Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). After rescuing some friendly crab-like aliens from a drought, the Shenzou is tasked with investigating a malfunctioning relay beacon at the edge of Federation space. When Burnham discovers the cause of the malfunction and the familiar aliens behind it, the stage is set for what I assume will be the series' first-season arc: war with the Klingons, reimagined here as a brutish "Make America Great Again" analogue.

The two-part opener (comprised of "The Vulcan Hello" and "Battle at the Binary Stars" gets the show off to a strong start. While burdened with some clunky exposition, moments of stilted line delivery, and one eye-rolling moment in the pre-credits teaser, Star Trek: Discovery succeeds where it counts, telling an interesting, meaningful story with flawed but sympathetic characters. Burnham makes a series of serious mistakes that arguably cost a great number of lives--and she faces believable consequences for her actions. The Klingons have an understandable motive for their actions, and they have depth; these aren't cookie-cutter cartoon villains. The supporting characters are well drawn, with the alien Saru (Doug Jones) a real standout.

As is usually the case with Star Trek shows, production design, costuming and special effects are all state-of-the-art for the era. The opening credit sequence is quite handsome and a real departure from those that preceded it.

Perhaps most importantly, the show takes chances. The two opening hours end without a trace of the titular USS Discovery or most of the show's main cast. Presumably they'll be introduced next week, in episode three, "Context is for Kings." Instead of a traditional pilot episode, we're given what amounts to two hours of backstory--but entertaining backstory it is, and should, in theory, add resonance to the show's first season arc.

Given the show's behind-the-scenes production drama and the involvement of Akiva Goldsman, my expectations for Star Trek: Discovery were very low. But I find myself pleasantly surprised. It's too early to say whether or not this will reach the heights of the original series, The Next Generation, or Deep Space Nine, I think it's safe to say it's already off to a more promising start than Voyager or Enterprise

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Autumnal Geekquinox 2017

Yesterday Pete, with Ellen's sterling assistance, brought us yet another moutwatering, belly-bursting Geekquinox feast. "I can't break away!"...from the table, because I'm stuffed to the brink of drooling unconsciousness.
This is candied bacon, with brown sugar and a hint of heat. I've been somewhat skeptical regarding the candied bacon trend, but it works - this went down very smoothly.
I love seafood and I love bacon, so I wound up downing three or four of these delectable bacon-wrapped shrimp. Utterly heavenly.
The chili verde was my favourite dish; it was incredibly savoury, with generous chunks of tender pork. I may actually ask Pete for the recipe; I love this stuff so much that I'm motivated to try to cook it myself, since I can't very well ask Pete to come over and cook it for me once or twice a week.
A Facebook request from Sylvia, though she didn't know it, inspired Pete to create these remarkable prosciutto potato roses. Actually, maybe this was my favourite, the chili. But it's close.
I was too busy gulping down the main course to get a photo. For the record, it consisted of porchetta (very, very tender pork belly with some sort of incredible stuffing) bacon mashed potatoes (too delicious by half), grilled cabbage (surprisingly excellent), and green beans with...some kind of pork I can't remember. In lieu of dinner, here's a shot of dessert: ice cream with chocolate sauce, maple bacon and homemade toffee. The homemade toffee alone was delectable, but in combination with all this--exquisite.

Another incredible meal, another great evening with a group of dear friends. Thanks again, Pete and Ellen! As ever, I am amazed by your dedication and near-insane level of commitment to this event. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Mirror Maniac in Colour

Today I painted my custom Mirror Maniac figure, my avatar for my adventures in the four-colour world of Villains & Vigilantes. As you can see, my brushwork is a little, er, crude. But at least it looks better than the unpainted original...I think? Argh, the flesh paint is pouring over his mirrorshades.
Here's the rear view. I tried to colour the shield so as to look wooden, but with metal parts. Results: decidedly mixed.

I'm actually happier with the Zeppelin in the background; that's a game piece from my copy of Fortune & Glory, a board game. Mind you, it was a lot easier to paint. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Primed for Painting

Tomorrow, I will finally prime the many board game and RPG miniatures I've accumulated over the years. Then, I shall attempt to paint them, the better to create a sense of immersion while I game. Stay tuned for the results! 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Another Lost Video Project

Another two hours lost trying to create a video for the blog. I've tried to have fun editing video for years, but only rarely does the software - and I've tried many, many kinds of software - cooperate. Usually, my computer crashes and loses all of my work, as it's done yet again tonight. Tons and tons of raw footage and nothing to show for it because of this persistent curse.

Blogging while angry again. Never a good idea. Does anyone know of PC video editing software that can handle multiple file formats and WON'T CRASH? I bought a high-end computer precisely so I could do this stuff. ARRGGHHHHH.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Earl's ABCs

In 1971, Mom used our reel-to-reel audio tape recorder to capture my three-year-old voice. You can hear mom suppressing a laugh when I clearly fail to understand that she wants me to count to ten, but I make up for this initial obliviousness by making it all the way up into the teens. A somewhat garbled recitation of the ABCs follows, and then Mom asks me what I want for Christmas. "The aiport," I answer. I think I must have been talking about the Fisher-Price airport toy, which I did indeed receive, and loved. Thanks, Mom and Dad!