Monday, August 31, 2020
Mayor William Tanner may not be the best man for the job, but he's the one that took it. Secretly he's pleased by the respect and perks that come with leading the community, but he's decent enough to feel shame about those feelings, so he compensates by doing the best he can to manage local politics fairly. Many townspeople disapprove of their mayor, but not quite enough to do anything about it.
Sunday, August 30, 2020
Absalom Arkwright: petty thief, backstabbing coward, loving son, gifted poet. His virtues and vices not quite in balance, and ever-shifting. Admired and despised in unequal measure, Absalom refuses to apologize and shows no shame--though perhaps he feels it festering inside like a pulsing cyst.
Saturday, August 29, 2020
Friday, August 28, 2020
Thursday, August 27, 2020
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Monday, August 24, 2020
Sunday, August 23, 2020
Saturday, August 22, 2020
About three-quarters of my hyper-realistic dreams wind up being nightmares, but last night's adventure was a whimsical treat:
It's an atypical day at the office, because reporter Ron Troupe is here to interview us for a story about the Legion of Super-Pets.
"Let me introduce you to my colleagues," I say. "Over here, we have, Streaky, the Supercat--" But Streaky isn't in her bed. Suddenly there's the familiar sound of tearing leather, and I whip around to see the orange tabby literally ripping the lobby couch in half with her claws.
"Sorry," Streaky says sheepishly, claws pausing in mid-rend. I sigh and gesture toward Comet, the Super-Horse, who is gnawing on one of the houseplants. "This is Comet, the Super-Horse," I tell Ron.
"Krypto, the Superdog." Krypto is half-asleep on the same couch Streaky is destroying. He blinks in acknowledgement.
"Tur-Tel, the Super-Turtle." Tur-Tel is surfing the Internet.
"Sapphire, the Super-Budgie." Sapphire is rooting around in the fridge, probably for a beer.
"And finally, Beppo, the Super-Monkey." I look around. No Super-Monkey. "Hey, has anyone seen Beppo?"
There's a bark, a meow, a whinny, a chirp, a cluck.
"Come on, guys, English. You know I'm not Dr. Doolittle."
There's a chorus of replies in the negative.
Just then, the phone rings. I pick up. Ron is taking notes.
"Legion of Super-Pets, how can we help?"
It turns out the fire department needs a bunch of equipment moved from a warehouse to a new fire station.
"Hey guys, we have a moving job. Everyone in?"
The Super-Pets are always happy to get out of the office. Thanks to their super-speed, they're out the door in a flash, capes fluttering in their wake.
As we follow, Ron asks me some questions.
"Aren't you famously allergic to animals?"
"Yes, but luckily the Super-Pets are all super-hypoallergenic," I reply. "Otherwise, my job would be impossible."
"And what is your job? You don't have any super-powers..."
"I guess you could say I'm their liaison. Although sometimes I feel like their mascot. They're all super-intelligent."
"So why do they keep you around?"
"It's the opposable thumbs and the lack of super-strength. I'm the only one that can answer the phone without destroying it."
We step outside, and there's Beppo saying goodbye to a leggy brunette, kissing her on the cheek and sending her off with a giggle. Ron looks nonplussed.
"Hey, Beppo, the gang's just heading down Jasper to the old warehouse on 112th. We've been asked to move some heavy equipment. They'll give you the scoop."
Beppo salutes and leaps into the sky, heading west. Ron and I have no choice but to follow along on the sidewalk. By the time we reach the warehouse, the Super-Pets will likely have finished the job, unless they get distracted, which sometimes happens. They may be super-intelligent, but they're still animals, and they all love to play.
"What brought the Super-Pets to Edmonton?"
Before I can answer, Sylvester Stallone pulls up alongside us, wearing a black trenchcoat and mirrored sunglasses.
"Ay, you the guy that manages the Super-Pets?" he asks.
"Yessir," I say.
"You happen to have an elephant on the team?"
"Actually yes, Jumbo, the Super-Elephant. But he's on a mission overseas right now."
"I really needed a super elephant," Stallone mumbles. "Thanks anyway!"
"So about that last question..."
"Right, why they're in Edmonton. My understanding is they had been hanging out in the 30th century for a while with some super-teenagers of that era, then came back to the 21st century but found the US too hectic right now and wound up in Edmonton because of the Mall."
He knew I meant West Edmonton Mall. "They like the waterpark," I explain.
In the distance, up in the sky, we can see Streaky and Krypto zipping back and forth, the occasional beam of heat vision zapping out to taunt and tease. "They must be done already. I should really ask Superman if I can borrow the Supermobile for a while. At least that way I'd be able to keep up."
Out of nowhere, Sapphire lands on my shoulder. I manage not to jump this time; I'm finally getting used to their super-speed.
"All done," she chirps. "Want a ride back to the office?"
"Uh, no thanks." It's not that I'm worried she's going to drop me, but her talons have already wrecked a couple of jackets.
"Suit yourself! Whee-ooo!" And off she goes.
That's when I wake up, laughing. Note that all the characters mentioned have actually appeared in comic books, aside from Super-Elephant and Super-Budgie, who seem to have leapt from my subconscious.
Friday, August 21, 2020
Thursday, August 20, 2020
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
I'll miss Aunt Margaret. She was kind, compassionate, warm, intelligent, and accomplished, and she had a smile that lit up the room. My thoughts are with my Uncle Gordon, my cousins David, Kathy, and Barbara, my aunts, and, of course, Mom.
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Monday, August 17, 2020
Sunday, August 16, 2020
Saturday, August 15, 2020
Friday, August 14, 2020
Thursday, August 13, 2020
The scale works very well. Of course, a real victim would be bound for execution, but even so this character's pose works well enough.
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Monday, August 10, 2020
Sunday, August 09, 2020
Saturday, August 08, 2020
Friday, August 07, 2020
SPOILER WARNING for the first episode of STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS!
Last night Sylvia and I watched "Second Contact," the pilot episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks, the first Star Trek show billed as a comedy and the second (barring a couple of Short Treks) to be animated.
"Second Contact" introduces us to the show's premise and its main characters. Lower Decks is set on the starship Cerritos; her primary mission is to perform second contact missions. That is, the crew of the Cerritos goes where others have gone before, following up the more exciting and hazardous first contact missions with alien species by taking care of the mundane work of establishing permanent communications links, cultural exchanges, trade agreements, and so on. The show is set just a few years after the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, so the ship designs, uniforms, and even the typefaces are identical to or clearly evolved from that show's design lineage.
While other Star Trek shows follow the adventures of the bridge officers--the captain and other high-ranking folks--Lower Decks reveals the less glamorous world of the fresh young crew who perform the least desirable or prestigious tasks on the ship. Our protagonists include Beckett Mariner and Brad Boimler, two ensigns on the command track; new Orion recruit D'Vana Tendi, who works in the medical division; and engineer Sam Rutherford, who recently became a cyborg due to an injury in the show's recent past. Each of the four displays the drive, ambition, and desire to do the right thing we've come to expect from Federation characters, but these characters are less polished than Kirk, Picard, Data, Spock, Sisko, Janeway, and so on. Mariner tends to pay less attention to regulations than she should, though always in pursuit of a greater good; as a result, she's been demoted at least a rank or two before the show opens. Boimler tends to be a little too focused on advancement, with perhaps a tendency to suck up to his superiors. Rutherford is still getting used to his Vulcan-designed cybernetic implants, which tend to tamp down his emotions by default, and he's also a bit too in love with his job, to the detriment of his social life. Tendi seems to be the least quirky of the quartet, though she does get a little overexcited when she gets the opportunity to hold a live, beating human heart in her bare hands.
We catch only glimpses of the senior staff; the ship's captain, Carol Freeman, gets the most development in this episode. She comes across as slightly antagonistic in this episode, but it's hard to judge her fairly based on just a few seconds of screentime.
Like most Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, this pilot has an A plot and a B plot. In the A plot, Boimler and Mariner beam down to the planet of the Galardonians to help set up some infrastructure. In the B plot, the ship's first officer infects the crew with a quickly-spreading zombie-like disease. Hilarity ensues in both plots, and Boimler unwittingly saves the day.
When I first heard about Lower Decks, I had one concern: Could the creators respect the Star Trek ethos while at the same time producing something funny?
The good news is the talent takes great pains to stay true to Trek values. While the characters are wacky by the standards of live-action Trek, they remain believable, if somewhat exaggerated. They clearly believe in the Federation and its mission, and act out of a desire to do good.
But is it funny? Well, I laughed, but not uproariously. The gags are a mix of physical pratfalls and gentle digs at some of the sillier aspects of the world of Star Trek. It works for me, but I'm a pretty small audience.
If I had to characterize Lower Decks in just a few words, I would say it's gentle, sincere, and has great potential. I already like the characters, and the premise is promising. It's a good start.