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Monday, December 31, 2012

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "The Empath"

This week's Star Trek begins with the Enterprise flying up to one of those giant floating space basketballs the Hubble keeps finding up there.  Look!  Just across the terminator I can see the Spalding logo and Danny Ainge's autograph!

We learn that the basketball is in the Malarian system.  Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to the surface of Planet Harlem Globetrotters to see what happened to a plastic research igloo that the Federation plopped down there to monitor the unpredictable Malarian star that is due to go supernova any second now.  I'd think it'd probably be safer to monitor the imminent explosion from a ship in outer space or, even better, with an unmanned probe sent in from outside the system.  The two poor janitors who drew the short straw on this assignment must have backed their hovercar over the Federation president's favorite pet xenomorph. 

"I've had it with you two screw-ups!  I will personally see to it that you are reassigned next-door to the nearest convenient exploding star!  Why, now you've gone and spilled coffee all over my Romulan peace treaty!  Gilligan!"

The blue igloo research station is abandoned and loaded with dust and cobwebs.  The dust I could handle, but I remember the episode where some evil flying space jellyfish were hiding under a coffee table on a strange planet and made a buffet out of Spock's spinal cord.  If I were captain and I'd just marched into a spooky abandoned research igloo loaded with cobwebs, I'd remember the lesson of the airborne jellyfish and wonder where the spiders that made all those webs are and whether or not they can fly and suck your brains out through your toupee.  I'd definitely not be so quick to throw caution to the wind flipping on light switches and poking around in dark corners with a stick.  Fortunately, the malevolent alien spiders that made the webs weren't written into the script and apparently only came into the igloo long enough to crap out some spooky atmosphere.

Kirk finds a three month old cracker and when he sticks it in the computer a video plays of the two research team members.  I recognize one of them as Archie Bunker's bartender from the horrible All in the Family spinoff, and I take a little comfort in the fact that no matter how bad this episode gets there was something worse on TV a decade later.

The planet starts heaving underneath them, and Kirk orders Scotty to take the Enterprise out of range of the solar flares that are wreaking havoc with the Star Trek film crew's stationary cameras.  This seems like kind of a boneheaded decision to me since the planet could blow up at any second and the Enterprise could be out of range for days, but maybe this is the Federation's version of hiding under your desk during a nuclear explosion and Kirk figures a fragile plastic igloo will protect them from the worst of an exploding star.     

On the cracker, Archie Bunker's bartender and the other guy disappear in a flash of bad special effects.  Moments after they view the tape, Spock, Bones and Kirk all disappear in the exact same flash of bad special effects.  I'm shocked, since I figured the episode would consist of the three of them hunkering down in the igloo telling ghost stories for 50 minutes until the Enterprise comes back to collect them.

They wake up in the planet's basement that looks a lot like a nearly empty Paramount sound stage with a couple of spotlights turned on.

In the middle of the basement is a chick wearing a purple dress and a pair of blue socks.  McCoy thinks she looks harmless, but Spock says that the sand bats of Flimflammer IV don't look bad but are.  Maybe he should have thought of that when the invisible spiders upstairs were laying eggs in his ears.

The chick in the purple dress and blue socks puts on a street mime act that makes William Shatner's acting look subdued and the static on McCoy's miniature TV tells him that she's mute so at least, unlike Shatner, we won't be subjected to the horrors of her cutting a cover version of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."

A couple of aliens in silver bathrobes, wrinkled little old lady lips and giant bulbous bald heads show up but when Kirk pulls his phaser on them they make all the good guys' weapons vanish.  Do those things ever work?  At least half the time they are rendered inoperative by aliens just by making creepy hand gestures and the other half they're made to vanish entirely.  Federation phasers are the Pintos of laser gun outer space hand weapons.  With their crummy success rate, I'd say shoot every space alien as soon as you beam into their living room because in two seconds the odds are 90% they're going to render your only weapon as useful as a comb in Williams Shatner's trailer and stick you in space prison where you'll have to share a toilet with an amorous five-armed pus monster from the Kuiper Belt named Bubba.   

The aliens with the giant rubber light bulb heads turn on their glittering disco ball and Kirk and the others are forced to dance inside a crazy light show like caged strippers.

Kirk cuts his head in a fit of overacting, and the chick with the blue socks makes the makeup disappear from his forehead and appear on hers in Lon Chaney werewolf transformation slow-motion.

Spock's portable Radio Shack tape recorder leads them to a corner of the planet's basement where the furnace, water heater and oil barrel are.  Near some old alien Schwinn ten-speeds hanging from the ceiling they see Archie Bunker's dead bartender stuffed in a giant test tube.

The aliens with the giant rubber bald heads have been butt-probing the crap out of everybody and they show up to tell Kirk that he and his pals are next.  Spock says nuts to that, knocks one of the aliens out and steals his car keys.  Kirk, Spock, Bones and the chick in the blue socks take off for the surface of Planet Harlem Globetrotters.

Up on the surface, the exploding star is making it a little windy and in the distance they see Scotty standing next to the plastic igloo waving like the Queen of England and grinning like a mental patient who accidentally got a double dose of thorazine in his chocolate pudding cup.

Scotty was ordered to take the Enterprise to a safe distance, so the first thing I'd wonder was why he was there waving to me like Nick Rivers at the end of Top Secret!, but the landing party doesn't smell anything suspicious, so maybe I have trust issues when it comes to omnipotent alien kidnappers with bubble heads who can make things randomly appear and disappear at will.

Kirk sees the bubble head butt-probing aliens hanging around by some Styrofoam rocks and he runs at them in slow motion like Bo Derek on the beach.  I wonder if Shatner's 1960s toupee would look less bad with cornrows.

The aliens take everybody back to the basement, which makes me wonder why they let them all loose in the first place.  They decide it's high time they tortured Kirk, so they take off his stunt double's shirt, suspend him from some gymnastics rings and hike his pants up to his armpits like an old man at the mall in order to, I guess, give him a wedgie.  Always with the butts, you aliens.

After a little gymnastics torture, Kirk is sent back to the others.  Bones runs his humming lipstick over Kirk's chest and declares him pretty, and the Marcel Marceau lady in the blue socks touches Kirk and his bruises disappear from him and appear on her.  There's a little bit of a delay after the manacle marks vanish from Kirk's wrists and appear on hers, which makes me wonder if she couldn't have let go just a few seconds earlier and let the manacle gashes drop to the floor between them onto a passing invisible spider.

Take us to your buttocks.

Bones says, "I'm a doctor, not a coal miner," and I find it encouraging that he even knows what a coal miner is, possibly indicating that by the 24th century mankind will get over its infatuation with squandering tax dollars on those giant bird-murdering pinwheels and go back to a fuel source that actually -- you know -- works.  So that's nice.

Kirk, Spock and McCoy play rock, paper, scissors to see who gets to be tortured next, and McCoy cheats by injecting them with a hypodermic.  Heroin beats paper.

When McCoy is taken away by the bulbous-headed butt-probers, the chick in the blue socks cries like that PSA garbage Indian.

The aliens torture Bones with gymnastics, and in the next room Kirk says "the best defense is a good offense" and William Shatner mispronounces "offense."  Hey, if we're going to haul out ancient Earth PSAs, forget the garbage Indian, let's try a different one: Reading Is Fundamental, Bill.

Spock is fiddling with the Wii control the aliens let them keep for some reason, and he gets it to transport them to where the aliens were viciously torturing McCoy by making him use the pommel horse.

They are too late to help McCoy, because the makeup department has already applied rubber cuts and Maybelline bruises.

We learn from the rubber-head aliens that all of this has been an elaborate series of tests to find out if the planet of the chick in the blue socks is worthy of saving.  The baldies are a superior race but apparently, we learn at the eleventh hour, there are all kinds of inhabited planets in the Malarian solar system.  Since the sun is about to explode and they are only able to evacuate one planet, they've decided to butt-probe people to find out what planet is worth saving.  Kirk and the others are there to teach humanity and compassion and all-around wonderfulness to the idiot mute mime chick, and if she learns to be a nice guy too the butt-probers will save her race.

So it turns out that this may actually be the stupidest Star Trek episode with the most moronic alien motivation in the entire run of the show.  We find out only now that there are a bunch of inhabited planets out there, yet Starfleet is doing nothing to help evacuate their inhabitants before the sun blows up.  In the middle of the solar system lives a secret race of butt-probing aliens who are capable of evacuating whole worlds, yet instead of doing so they waste months staging elaborate psychological games involving torture for the benefit of one representative from each world to decide which race in their system deserves saving.  So what happens if they randomly selected the Mother Teresa of Planet Charles Manson and the Charles Manson of Planet Mother Teresa?  "Oops, we just saved an entire race of psychopathic narcissists because we happened to butt-probe the one nice person on the planet.  Our bad."  Not to mention the fact that their scheme hinged on the random, impossible-to-predict arrival of a Starfleet ship.  And, oh, instead of butt-probing everybody for months on end, if they'd just spent that time evacuating worlds maybe they could have emptied out the star system before the sun went supernova.  After learning that which motivates the aliens I'm pretty sure that, after jabbing Kirk and Spock, Bones injected everyone in the writers' room with H, too.

The chick peels off McCoy's rubber bruises and glues them to her own face, but the butt-probers don't think she's nice enough yet to save her planet until Kirk gives them such a sanctimonious tongue-lashing that they heal Bones with their Wii control just to get Captain Smug out of their baldheaded hair.

The alien butt-probers take the chick in the blue socks and shrink up into the rafters of the Paramount sound stage in an elaborate special effects-laden finale that looks like somebody was stuffed into a black leotard, glued the aliens' picture to the end of a stick and backed from the room.

Back on the Enterprise, the boys have a hearty laugh and don't seem the least bit concerned that they are about to sail away having made no effort to save even one of the apparently billions of lives that are about to be wiped out when the Malarian solar system's sun explodes, but we can forgive the multiple genocides because maybe they have to hurry across town to teach somebody else the wonderfulness of human compassion and self-sacrifice.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Anyone know a good doomsday cult I can join? Those Mayans totally crapped out on me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "Wink of an Eye"

In a voice-over at the start of this week's Star Trek, we learn that the Enterprise is answering a distress call from an unexplored planet in an outer quadrant of the galaxy.  It's been a long time since the olden days of grammar school math class, but back then when we divided the apple into quadrants we had four slices.  So if the Federation has divided the Milky Way Apple into quadrants, there can't possibly be an "outer" one.  There would be four roughly equal sections of the galaxy apple, and once you've warped through the pulp and past the skin you'd be somewhere out in the unexplored vastness of the vegetable crisper drawer, bouncing into bags of radishes and caroming off that fuzzy withered carrot curled up in the corner.

The distress call is from a planet called Scallops, which is apparently located just north of the 57th quadrant, and Kirk, Bones, Spock and Ensign Expendable beam down to see what's distressing the Scallopian-Tubes so much.  There are no people, but they find evidence of a once thriving civilization.  I have to take their word for it, because the whole thriving joint exists entirely offscreen with the exception of one room painted in the vomit green-and-blue colors of a hospital maintenance corridor and the most unrealistic backdrop painting of a skyline since Hanna-Barbera got into the cartoon business.

While Kirk wonders where the people who sent the distress call are, Ensign Expendable can be seen in the background licking doorknobs, chewing gum he's scraped off the underside of a desk, and finally drinking some water from a fountain.  Apparently the water on Planet Scallions gives tourists the hot trots worse than a slurp from a Tijuana garden hose, because as soon as he takes a sip Ensign Expendable vanishes, presumably running at light speed to dock a pantload of shuttlecraft in the nearest porcelain star base. 

Bones is watching and he's shocked when Ensign Expendable suddenly disappears.  He just came down to a mysterious alien planet by means of a device that makes people appear and disappear all over the galaxy like audience volunteers in a cheesy Vegas magic show, yet Ensign Expendable vanishing is apparently some kind of unfathomable space voodoo to the Enterprise's chief medical officer.  Bones must also be paralyzed with fear every morning in the mess hall by the transubstantiation that somehow turns his bread into toast.

The boys beam back to the Enterprise and as soon as they do the ship's systems start going nutty and Kirk hears a mosquito buzzing around the ship that he heard buzzing around on the planet down below.  I would assume at once that this invisible space mosquito had something to do with the malfunctions, and I would immediately set out some citronella candles on Sulu's console and flip on the bridge bug zapper, but Kirk just waves his hand around, sings a verse of "Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me" and snaps on the TV.

On the viewscreen we see the distress signal that brought the Enterprise to planet Scallops.  The signal is a video that consists of a couple of people in tinfoil dog collars and Reynolds Wrap Kiss the Cook aprons standing around at the Sears Portrait Studio waiting to say "cheese."  They don't look so much distressed as annoyed at the long lunchtime wait for their Christmas card photo.

It's discovered that some strange device has suddenly appeared in the Enterprise rec room downstairs, and when Spock examines it he announces that it's an item of alien origin.  It's a good thing I'm not the ship's science officer, because upon careful examination I would have said that it was an old spray-painted refrigerator box with some vacuum cleaner hoses sticking out of it.

Spock says it is technology "the nature of which I'm not familiar with."  Vulcans: big on logic, not so much on grammar.

In order to pad the episode up by a couple of minutes, everybody decides to sit down and have a pleasant afternoon chat with the ship's com-pu-tore.  Spock asks the com-pu-tore what they should do and the com-pu-tore is so quick to recommend surrender that I wonder if it was programmed by an ancestor of the bald captain from the next Star Trek show who was always surrendering to or running away from every space gnat that flew through an open porthole.  Or maybe the Enterprise com-pu-tore is just sick and tired of all those yellow crackers Spock keeps shoving in it every week.

The Enterprise's elderly barista wanders up to the bridge to take drink orders.  She's carrying a cafeteria tray of coffee, and the instant Kirk takes a sip he's on a psychedelic hayride through Hippietown.  Far out, Maynard G. Krebs. 

Everyone on the bridge starts to slowly tip sideways like they're standing in the Riddler's lair on Batman.  They eventually freeze altogether, and once everyone else is frozen there's suddenly a babe wearing a cheap plastic motel shower curtain standing over by the elevator looking like she's waiting for a space-bus.

Kirk fires a phaser at the shower curtain chick, but she's able to step right past the beam because it's traveling in super slow-motion.  We learn that Kirk is now moving super-duper fast and that the people of planet Scarface are called Scoliosis and that they were responsible for the buzzing noise Kirk was hearing earlier because they also move super-duper fast, and when they talk they make the buzzing sound that husbands hear every time their wives start nagging them to go clean out the garage.

The babe in the shower curtain tells Kirk that she's made him go fast so they can repopulate their planet.  Or something.  I'm still wondering why the phaser Kirk fired didn't blast a hole in the side of the Enterprise, because just because the chick can sidestep it that doesn't mean the energy didn't go somewhere.  And -- wait -- if things other than organic matter are transported to this super-fast state just by Kirk drinking spiked coffee, then why doesn't the phaser work really fast too?  And if it doesn't work because Kirk has been speeded up, why isn't it trailing very slowly behind him like a ghost-phaser as he walks, along with his trousers and wig?  I think the same guy who came up with five million Milky Way quadrants at the beginning of the show is responsible for all the rest of this sciencey-type stuff too.

Kirk sees Ensign Expendable from the start of the show who is now a super-duper fast traitor and he threatens to shoot Kirk with a phaser that Kirk already knows doesn't work, so why doesn't he just flying kick him out of the way?  Kirk confronts the Scoliosis in their Reynolds Wrap aprons and tries to shut off their refrigerator-vacuum cleaner but he gets zapped and turns into a Kamikaze Scotsman.  Across the room, Ensign Expendable turns into an actor in really bad old age makeup and dies.

 Golly, Miss Lane.  What with my breakdancing puppet show and Spock and Chekov's Sonny & Cher duet, the Enterprise is sure to win the Federation Follies talent show this year!

The oldest guy in a Reynolds Wrap apron makes out with the babe in the shower curtain, but she tells him to knock it off or she'll punch him in his aluminum foil dog collar.

Down in sickbay, Spock, McCoy and a cigar store Indian are standing around in slow-motion.  Oops, that's not a cigar store Indian, it's Nurse Chapel.  Yikes.

Kirk is across the room making a taped message for them, but they can't hear it because he's moving too fast.  William Shatner mispronounces "docile" like he mispronounced "telekinesis" a few episodes back.  Apparently Canadian schools are as crummy at teaching English as Vulcan ones. 

Kirk explains his predicament and then sticks a yellow cracker with his message on it in the computer in front of Spock.  I figure if it's that important he could have put the cracker in Spock's pocket or in his hand or boot or mouth so he'll be sure to find it, but Starfleet regulation 356-2 clearly states that captains have to hide all vitally important information crackers like Easter eggs.

The babe in the shower curtain explains that her race died out on the planet and in order for the few survivors to continue they have to trick ships with a bogus distress call, spike everyone's coffee with amphetamines then rape the crap out of them at the Number Six Dance later on.  She says it's the only way they can procreate.  Apparently the concept of "cloning" doesn't survive either science fiction or real life beyond next Tuesday.

Hey, wait a minute.  If everything is so super-slow that Scotty has been standing like a statue in the transporter room door for half the episode, how have Kirk and the Scoliosis been able to get around the ship?  The elevators and doors wouldn't work for them.  Yes, they'd be able to walk through a door that was already open, but they wouldn't be able to get them to open for them.  And, hey, now that I think of it, why is it that every door that they've walked through throughout the episode just happens to be already open, with somebody like Scotty already conveniently standing frozen in it to make sure it stays open?  And, hey, why is it that when Kirk or the babe in the shower curtain travel from deck to deck, they're suddenly already there so we don't see them trying to get the frozen elevators to work for them? 

Oh, hold it a minute; the chick in the shower curtain just flashed her naked hip at me again.  What was I saying?

Bones wins the Klingon coloring book and a chocolate bunny when he suddenly finds the yellow cracker Kirk stuffed in the computer hole an hour ago.

Kirk bangs the babe in the shower curtain, and the jealous old guy in the Reynolds Wrap apron gets so mad that he and Kirk reenact the hilarious pillow fight scene in Nordberg's hospital room from The Naked Gun.

Where can I buy the album of that sexy background space music?

Bones and Spock come up with a magic potion that will make Spock go fast too.  Spock drinks it and everything around him freezes perfectly still with the exception of actor DeForest Kelley's eyes which follow Spock as he casually strolls out of the room.  Good Lord, I know they cut corners in the third season but would one more take of that scene have broken the bank?

Kirk and Spock blow up the evil Electrolux-Frigidaire-box device and send the Scoliosis back to their planet.

Spock gives Kirk a urine specimen to drink and Kirk slows back down.  Scotty is suddenly freed from being frozen in the door and is as amazed when Kirk reappears as McCoy was at the beginning of the episode when Ensign Expendable disappeared.  At this point everyone knew what had happened to Kirk, and Scotty is the guy who actually runs the technology that transports people and thus sees people disappear and reappear in that very room every day.  Yet he's still shocked.  Don't microwave a bowl of soup for these guys or they'll burn you as a witch.

Kirk goes back to the bridge to find that all the ship's systems are being repaired at supersonic speed.  He says that Spock stayed behind in fast-speed to fix everything that was broken, even though the two of them didn't discuss it.  Spock reappears seconds later once everything has been fixed and says that he found it "an accelerating experience."  Hah-hah.  Sure, Spock just shaved five years off his life, but at least he got a whacky quip out of it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to all

You want to get a fleeting look of shock followed quickly by a little conspiratorial smile out of store cashiers? When they wish you "happy holidays" wish them a merry Christmas back.
Just in time for Christmas, heartwarming news has come from an acquaintance about his son. The lad has spent a lifetime dodging and weaving and gaming the system and, although perfectly healthy, has managed to make it to his late thirties without ever having worked a day in his life. But don't fret. Years ago he nestled comfortably inside the warmth and safety of the government womb, where an alphabet soup of federal and state agencies supply him with cash for all the marijuana, beer and cigarettes his heart desires. What he desired in this joyous season was a seven foot tall Christmas tree. Not artificial, mind you, which would be a one-time purchase and last for years. It simply HAD to be a real tree to count as a real Christmas tree.

So as you and your family cut corners, clip coupons, turn the heat down low, and worry about work and life and how you'll survive the impending total economic meltdown, take a moment to picture this magnificent seven foot tall tree, tinsel glistening in the lava lamplight while lazy puffs of pot smoke swirl around the Budweiser ornaments. After all, you paid for it. Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Snack-food entrepreneurs are selling 10-count boxes of Twinkies for $25 and up at Amazon's Grocery & Gourmet Food department. Tell you what. I recently found a box of ten year old Duncan Hines yellow cake mix in the back of the cupboard. If you crave the gourmet taste of Twinkies that much, I can help you out. I'll toss out the mix and let you eat the box. The bidding starts at twenty bucks.

Making Love Out of Nothing at All

I was in the supermarket a couple of months back when Air Supply's annoying "Making Love Out of Nothing at All" began screeching down at me from the ceiling speakers. I've hated it for 30 years, but when for the first time I found myself actually listening to the lyrics the light very slowly dawned as I realized: holy crap, Jim Steinman wrote this song. I came home, looked it up and sure enough Steinman wrote it. It turns out that horrible song that I hate is very well written, and I only hate it mostly because Air Supply's lead singer sounds like someone is running a cat through a table saw. I still hate the song, but now I wonder how great it might have been if only Meat Loaf had sung it. What a shame those two guys didn't have a thirty year collaboration with a dozen albums, because neither is anywhere near as good alone.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "Plato's Stepchildren"

Another Star Trek episode, another question answered: are there ancient Greeks in space?  Wait a minute.  Didn't we already answer that question in that episode where they found Apollo stranded on a planet a season or two ago?  Now that I think of it, aren't those the same cardboard Greek columns and fake marble benches from that other episode?  Ah, who cares.  Pass me the ouzo and a catamite.  Toga!  Toga!  Toga!

The episode begins with the Enterprise answering a distress call on a mysterious planet.  Kirk, Bones and Spock beam down to the surface and Spock says the planet is rich in Clearasil deposits.  They find a thriving civilization of thirty-seven men in dresses and a midget, none of whom have pimples.

In a tacked-on voiceover we learn that the people are spacemen who hung around ancient Greece 2000 years ago then relocated to this planet because Socrates was keeping them up all night with his endless pacing and Archimedes kept sticking levers under the house and scaring the cat.

The midget Kirk befriends is the evil scientist from The Wild, Wild West who apparently created a diabolically clever device to transport him from one ridiculous genre show to another.  He's just lucky he set the dial right or he might have ended up crushed by that huge telephone on Land of the Giants or run over by Fleegle's Banana Buggy.

The boss of the planet is named Parmesan and he's dying from a deadly infection that's the result of a cut on his leg.  The boo-boo went untreated since the Space Greeks have no doctor, and the only thing rubbing Clearasil on it did was clean up the zits on his thigh.  So this tiny handful of people has been on this planet for over two thousand years and in all that time apparently no one got so much as one sliver in their finger or stepped on a rusty nail sticking out of a board, let alone got an abscessed tooth, tinnitus, dandruff, a headache, cancer or gotten a compound fracture from slipping and falling off one another in the communal baths.  That seems pretty unlikely to me, but later in the episode Nurse Chapel is presented as a sex object so this week we're talking the Golden Gate Bridge of disbelief suspension.

Bones tries to cure Parmesan, but the Greeks on Planet Greek are telekinetic and so in his crazed, leg boo-boo state Parmesan makes all kinds of cheap props fly around and smash all over the room.  He also makes Kirk wrestle the midget, which is nowhere near as funny as it sounds.

Bones employs the medical technique of shaking his patient like a bucket of paint in a Home Depot paint mixer, and Parmesan stops smashing the $1.25 props.

Parmesan makes an amazingly rapid recovery for a guy who was at death's door just before the previous commercial break, and Kirk tells him that since he's on the mend that he and the others are leaving Planet Greece.  Parmesan shows how great his mental powers are by making Kirk play a long-distance game of "stop hitting yourself."

Later, Parmesan claims he feels bad about making Kirk slap himself, so he brings the boys in for some lovely parting gifts.  Kirk gets a big hubcap, Spock is given a giant wishbone, and McCoy is handed a roll of paper towels with most of the sheets of Bounty missing.

Parmesan says Bones has to stay just in case he steps on a bottle cap when he goes to the beach and needs a tetanus booster.  Kirk says no dice so Parmesan makes Kirk and Spock put Christmas wreaths on their heads and riverdance around the room.

Apparently the Greeks on Planet Greece have the kind of telekinesis that doesn't just toss Paramount props around the room, they can make people say stuff too.  Kirk is forced to sing, but no one can force me to listen.  Thank Zeus for the mute button.

Kirk is forced to lay down on the floor and I'm a little alarmed that we're going to get into some real, old-school Greek stuff -- you know what I mean -- but instead Spock's stand-in does a rapid-step flamenco dance around Kirk's head.  It's very impressive for the simple fact that I imagine flamenco dancing wasn't much practiced several thousand years ago on Earth before the spacefaring ancient Greek diaspora, so how do the space Greeks know about it?

Spock cries.  Maybe he just got around to reading the rest of the script and found out he was going to have to spoon Nurse Chapel.  Run, Vulcan, Run.

Kirk is forced to act like a horsie with the midget riding his back, and now we're way down the path to the kind of stuff that got Alexander the Great banned from coming within a hundred yards of every Macedonian grammar school.

After the most well-placed commercial break in television history, Spock is mad that Parmesan made him display emotion, and to prove it he breaks a prop goblet made of painted sugar.  The Wild, Wild West midget is pretty ticked too, probably because he's a better actor than the guy he had to ride like a horse in the previous scene, so he breaks a planter and says he's going to go stab Parmesan with the hunk of papier mache, but Kirk gets him to hand over the chunk of planter by talking down to him in every usage of the phrase.       

Here and at several points during the episode, Kirk talks to the midget as if he's a two year old and not an adult human being.  The guy has two thousand years of pent-up rage because of the way Parmesan and the other Greeks have been mistreating him.  The way Kirk patronizes him, Kirk is lucky he doesn't get a head-butt to the crotch and his wig stuffed down his throat.

Bones says that there's a high concentration of curare in Parmesan's blood but not in the midget's, and figures out that's what is giving the Greeks their super telekinetic powers.  Kirk asks the midget how long their abilities started to manifest after the Greeks arrived on the planet.  I can't remember what I had for supper last week, but the midget can remember after two and a half millennia how long the supplies on their ship lasted and how long it took for their powers to show up after the Greeks started eating the local food.  What I really want to know is if Parmesan had a Sprite or a Fresca on day 172 and how much salt he used on his burger on day 400, but Kirk doesn't ask that important stuff.

We take for granted that tomatoes and grapes won't kill us.  That is accumulated civilizational knowledge based on thousands of years of trial and error by our ancestors.  A lot of ancient humans died testing out stuff that turned out to be poisonous.  Yet on Planet Greece, only thirty-seven people showed up, picked and ate whatever they wanted willy-nilly, and not only were there no fatal consequences, they wound up developing superpowers.  Then they sat around picking on a midget for over two thousand years until one of them finally stepped on a rusty fishing hook and wound up with an infection that brought the Enterprise there at the start of the episode.  Frankly, I don't think this episode was very well thought out.

How do we separate the men from the boys in Starfleet?  With crowbars!  Hah-hah-hah-hah!  Seriously, though, I can put you in the cabin right next to mine.

Bones gives Spock and Kirk injections of curare and says that they'll develop superpowers too, but it could take anywhere from a little bit of time to a very long time.  Since it's about 45 minutes into the episode, I'm guessing Kirk's superpowers will show up in about....ohhhh.....five years.

Bones says that the midget never developed superpowers because of the same problem with his pituitary gland that kept him from growing.  But, hold on...if the local food hasn't given him the superpowers of the others, how come he didn't die 2,300 years ago?  Wait!  Don't think about logical stuff!  Quick!  Look over there!  Uhura and Nurse Chapel just beamed into the room and marched away.  Ooo, what's that all about?

Parmesan and the other Greeks brought the gals down to join in the fun.  Spock sings to them.  I take a moment to slaughter a goat as thanks to all the gods on Olympus that Uhura isn't inspired to perform an impromptu fan dance.

Spock is forced to make out with Nurse Chapel.  I would've used the Vulcan death pinch on myself.

Kirk makes TV history and makes out with Uhura.  At least I think TV history was going on.  I was too busy looking at Uhura's fingernails, which look like the ridiculous giant silver fingernails on the woman who waited on me at the bank the other day.  How do those bank tellers eat a sandwich without slicing off their face like that guard whose face Hannibal Lecter peeled off to escape police custody?

Just when things seem most bleak, Kirk develops superpowers.  I was way off with that five years guess.

Maybe Kirk was motivated to get his powers faster before the Greeks made him make out with Nurse Chapel too. 

With his new powers, Kirk threatens Parmesan with a rubber knife-wielding midget.  He tells Parmesan to watch it or Starfleet will superpower his flabby Greek rear-end all over the planet.  I thought they had some rule or something about interfering in other cultures.  Maybe that doesn't apply when you use superpowers and a midget with a knife to your dirty work for you.

Kirk leans down to the Wild, Wild West midget and calls up to the ship with a big smile on his face to tell Scotty, "I have a little surprise."  That's when the scene cuts, so we're spared Kirk winking and telling the guy that it'll be "a short trip," "a small leap," and "a tiny hop" to the Enterprise.  Unfortunately we're also spared the sight of Kirk being strangled to death by an irate midget.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Upper Class Twit of the Year

For the past several weeks the car door slamming starts around 11:30 and runs to midnight, then starts up again sometime after 2:00. I had no idea my neighborhood was hosting the Wake the Neighbors event of the Twit of the Year competition this year.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "The Tholian Web"

This week's Star Trek opens with Kirk and his pals staring intently at the big TV screen at the front of the bridge.  We get tense close-ups of Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Scotty, Chekov and Sulu.  I figure they're all worried because the Nielsen ratings just came in and they realize that at this point in the show's run they're down to an equal ratio of viewers-to-actors looking back in at them from the other side of the screen.  Uh-oh, according to Spock's instruments another one just switched over to Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.  Set phasers on "cancellation."

On the bridge TV-screen there is a little green glowing blob that abruptly becomes a big green glowing blob.  I figure Chekov must have leaned his elbow on the zoom function on the bridge's TV remote control because no one gave the order to amplify the image on the screen, and ghost ships don't just hop through space like that, d-d-d-do they?  Quick, I'm scared, somebody hold my hand!  Not you, Sulu!   

The green blob is the USS Defiant, which is floating in space waiting for a plot to come around.  Unfortunately for the Defiant, it's this one.

Kirk beams over to the g-g-g-ghost ship with Bones, Chekov and Scotty.  For some reason the landing party is wearing beekeeping outfits.  They've beamed to a million different hazardous planets, asteroids, planetoids, tunnels and alien ships without putting on hazmat suits, but this time for some reason beaming to a fellow Federation ship identical to their own and filled with oxygen they decide now's the time to dig in the bottom of the costume trunk and break out the space suits.  I wonder for a moment if their sartorial choice has been dictated solely to service the plot, but of course that can't be the case.  I'm sure it was completely necessary for them to wear those beekeeper outfits, even though they never wore them before and even though there is no explanation given for why they are wearing them now for the first time ever. 

The beekeeper outfits are air tight except for the giant mesh window screens in front of their faces, but I guess in outer space oxygen molecules are too fat and just bounce off the screen like lazy junebugs on a Ju-ly night, Boss Hogg.

The entire crew aboard the Defiant is dead.  If it was a swarm of killer space bees what done 'em in, those beekeeper outfits are looking like a pretty smart choice now.  And Scotty wanted them to dress like firemen.

Downstairs, Chekov gets dizzy.  Maybe he's allergic to bee stings like this kid I knew in grammar school who threw rocks at a beehive during recess and got chased down the street by a swarm of angry bees and wound up in the hospital.  True story.  Stupid kid.

The Defiant is fading out of our universe and the landing party has to hurry and beam back to the Enterprise.  Naturally there's only enough power to beam back three people at a time.  Kirk tells everybody else to go back first, and Spock argues just long enough so that only he, Chekov and McCoy make it back to the Enterprise.  Kirk vanishes along with the Defiant and William Shatner goes to his dressing room to pout that he only has about five lines in this week's episode.

Spock talks to the com-pu-tore! and the com-pu-tore! says that it'll take two hours to do some calculations, probably because Spock just stuck a big yellow cracker in it.

Chekov goes nuts and Spock says it's "murderous fury" but I say it's "bad acting."

A triangle flies up to the Enterprise and a red Mardis Gras mask tells Spock to leave the neighborhood.  In the meantime, Bones is downstairs making medicinal snow-cones from a bunch of unlabeled plastic bottles.

The triangle shoots at the Enterprise and Spock shoots back and Bones takes time out from making snow-cones to tell Spock he's a crummy captain for defending the ship.

The red masks on the triangle who want the Enterprise to leave are Thermians.  Since Spock has to search for his dead captain who vanished into a different universe from our own which exists in another dimension that has drifted to unknown coordinates, Spock defies the Thermians and stays put because he has until the local news comes on at 11:00 to find Kirk alive.     

Another Thermian ship shows up and they bump butts and begin secreting parallel lines of energy in space.  The energy beams begin to form a cage and Spock says they'll be trapped and unable to leave in a couple of hours.  It seems to me that torpedoes and laser beams make sense as weapons -- even a spike on the front of a ship for high-speed space-poking makes sense -- but a technology that assumes an enemy will just sit there for a day and a half and let you build a buzzing yellow cage around them doesn't have very many practical applications.  But, hey, I ain't Patton, so what do I know? 

Spock has a wake for Kirk even though things are kind of busy right now and even though I thought he thought Kirk was maybe still alive, so maybe it'd make more sense to have the wake after he confirms Kirk is dead and he's gotten out of the area of space where the cage-building triangles are crapping beams of light around his ship.

Bones is at the wake even though he's supposed to be down in the lab urgently making more snow-cones, and he and Spock go to Kirk's cabin to stick a yellow cracker in the computer because Kirk's last request was that his two best pals feed a jaundiced Triscuit to his laptop.  On his computer, Kirk's recording tells the two of them to knock it off, so Spock goes back to the bridge and Bones goes back to Signore McCoy's Eye-talian Ice Shoppe in the cellar.

My official medical diagnosis as ship's chief surgeon is that you've got the vapors, which is a common ailment among girls.  The cure is getting married and making babies.  Now whip me up a cake, dammit.

With an alien race building a massive electrified fence around the Enterprise, Uhura thinks it's a good idea to go slip into a caftan and play "mirror, mirror on the wall" in her quarters (the answer might not be Snow White, but it sure ain't Nurse Chapel).  Kirk floats across her mirror and because this is the Sixties Uhura runs screeching out into the hallway like she's just seen an icky spider in her hairbrush.  Bones tells her she couldn't have seen the captain and, because this is the still Sixties, she swoons.  Frankly, I like the Sixties better than whatever century this is now, where all-new TV convention would demand Uhura sass-talk, beat the crap out of Bones to show how tough she is, then strip down and practically rape him.  TV sure has gotten better in the past forty-five years.  Hey, let's all send thank-you notes to Gloria Steinem!

Downstairs in engineering, a guy goes nuts like Chekov and jumps on Scotty's stunt double.  The guy is lucky it's 1960s Scotty and not bloated 1980s Scotty from the movies or they'd be scraping him off the ceiling with spatulas.

Because the area of space is unstable, everyone might go nuts, which is why Bones is making snow-cones and sticking yellow crackers in the computer in his lab.

Chekov is tied down to his bed with some seatbelts.  He's yelling all over the place, and I notice that people not only still get cavities in the future, they're back to getting metal fillings.  Or maybe in the 24th century metal fillings are some retro, primitive fad like tattooing and piercing are now.  Frankly, getting unnecessary holes drilled in your teeth makes about as much sense as that Tweety Bird on your ass, honey.

Ghostly floating Captain Kirk appears again, and this time Scotty is the one who sees him and since he's a levelheaded boy and not a ditzy emotional girl like Uhura, Bones believes him.

Kirk floats around the bridge a little bit, and is alternately big and small which must be a result of some sort of crazy interdimensional spatial distortion and doesn't have anything to do with the special effects crew not being able to hold the overlapping image steady.

Bones gives up on the snow-cones and instead brings Spock and Scotty some melted Orange Julius and says it's the cure that'll keep them all from going nuts.  Delicious and life-saving.  Orange Julius.  Ask for it by name at your nearby Dairy Queen!

The aliens continue to build the deadly killer electric fence outside and Kirk is still floating around peeping through windows at female crew members while they're showering and engaging in sexy pillow fights.  Down in the bar, Spock and the boys enjoy a relaxing happy hour, chatting about the weather and the upcoming Klingon U. vs. Starfleet Academy football game, without a thought or a care about how the oxygen is at that very moment running out in ghost-Kirk's beekeeper suit.

Spock finally wanders back to the bridge and tells Bones to be ready with an oxygen stick because Kirk's air must be out by now, although I still say his oxygen probably fell out the rusty screen door in front of his face the moment he drifted into outer space.

Spock flies the ship out of the electronic fence and the Thermians shake their fists in the air and yell that if the Enterprise had just given them eight more days to finish it they'd have taught them a real lesson, and how.

Spock finally gets arund to beaming Kirk back home.  Instead of passing out or being dead, Kirk drops to his knees in an exhausted but manly way and takes off his beekeeper hat.  Kirk says the most terrifying part of his ordeal was looking out Uhura's mirror with no one being able to hear him as he screamed for the love of God for her to not get naked for fan dancing practice. 

So it turns out it was a good thing Kirk wore his beekeeper outfit after all, even though there weren't any bees, and I'm sure he'll make sure he wears his magic beekeeper suit on every mission from now on even though I can't quite recall him ever wearing it again.  The end.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Middle Class Twit of the Year

For the past several weeks the car door slamming starts around 11:30 and runs to midnight, then starts up again sometime after 2:00. I had no idea my neighborhood was hosting the Wake the Neighbors event of the Twit of the Year competition this year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This is pretty flattering

My brother told me a buddy of his who was once a Destroyer reader has discovered my Red Menace and Crag Banyon books. He says he's laughing out loud while reading again and driving his wife crazy, just like he used to with The Destroyer. So if you're a Destroyer fan and you've not yet gotten on the Red Menace or Crag Banyon trains...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

2012 Gift Guide Hot Pick: One Horse Open Slay (A Crag Banyon Mystery)

Thanks to R. J. Carter for his review of One Horse Open Slay on The-Trades.

[One Horse Open Slay] is a brilliant mixture of holiday whimsy and noir thriller, flawlessly blending gritty realism with fun fantasy.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "For the Earth is Hollow..."

This week's Star Trek begins with Kirk racing onto the bridge, urgently pasting down his wig and sucking in his gut.  Someone has launched a bunch of glow-stick bombs at the Enterprise and apparently a bridge full of highly trained Starfleet officers can't figure out which button to push when a half-dozen missiles are about to blow their ship out from under them.  Kirk turns the headlights on and the glow sticks explode.

Spock tracks the glow sticks back to a giant spitball floating in space.  In the meantime, Kirk goes downstairs and finds out that Bones has a terminal case of zenon-polyplatypus-thermia.  Maybe that explains why he's always looking at the tops of people's heads instead of their eyes when he's talking to them, occasionally bugging out his own eyes for no reason, why he's always doing that weird chewy thing with his mouth, and why he never seems to know what to do with his hands.  Those aren't bad actor tics, they're symptoms.  Now I feel guilty for making fun of him all these years.  Poor Bones.  He'll be dead in 57 minutes and I never told him I loved him.

Upstairs on the bridge, Spock's figured out that his giant space spitball is hollow and he determines that there is oxygen inside.  He also says that it's on a collision course with Darren 5, which surprises me because I didn't think Bewitched burned through that many Darrens.  Probably the AIDS.

Kirk, Spock and Bones beam inside the giant spitball and find an exotic 20 by 30 foot land of pool sand, Styrofoam rocks, red sky and a bunch of upright cement sewer liners that have been spray-painted pink.  Spock says the place is lifeless, but the minute they get arrive some doors swing open on the sides of the sewer caps and a bunch of guys wearing tights and ugly picnic tablecloth ponchos run out with swords and whack McCoy over the head.  Because, of course, the preferred weapon of a brilliant space-faring race that is technologically capable of building a giant, inhabited floating spitball would naturally be the broadsword.

The lady boss in a green Christmas wrapping paper dress shows up and orders Kirk and the others taken below.  One of the guards holds up the back of his hand in the traditional "why you, I oughta" gesture that signifies the universe over that this wiseguy means business.  The Enterprise men go downstairs with the tablecloth-wearing goons into the spitball's basement.

The boss lady takes them to her "oracle," which is a gravy stain on the wall with a flashlight stuck in the middle.  Kirk says he wants to be friends, so the gravy stain zaps him because it doesn't swing that way, no matter what the other gravy stain flashlights or Darren #2 says.  Kirk and the others are briefly turned into bad Kodak photo negatives of themselves before they pass out, and I'm thinking maybe the gravy stain is overcompensating for something.

Kirk and the others wake up from their electrocution and an old caveman in a fright wig and groovy poncho lets them lick special herbs from his hand.  Far out, Yoko.

The old hippie caveman says he knows that they're all inside a spitball in outer space because one time he climbed a mountain and rapped his knuckles on the sky.  When he tells Kirk this, a glowing pimple erupts on his forehead and since there's no acne cream on board the spitball, he dies of embarrassment.

The old man had some alien electric dog fence technology implanted in his head, and the gravy stain oracle killed him when he started blabbing about all the catwalks and gaffers living up in the sound stage sky.  It seems odd to me but apparently not to the writers that the old man wasn't punished way back when he actually climbed the mountain, or that he's punished for telling the truth to three guys who beamed over from an alien spaceship and so clearly already know that the spitball is a giant hollow spaceship.  Or that in the 10,000 years that we later find out the spitball has been in space, he was the only guy in countless generations of spitball inhabitants who left the sewers to take a look around the place.  Maybe these people deserve to have a splatter of gravy on the wall in charge of their destiny.

 Screen legend Bette Davis on The Mike Douglas Show, circa 1977

The babe shows up and says, "It is time to refresh yourself."  Why can they always speak English up in space but they can never just say, "Hey, you guys want a grilled cheese or maybe some tuna or something?"

The babe thinks she's on a planet called Yomama and not inside a floating spitball, and she looks like she uses the cardboard tubes inside the toilet paper rolls for curlers.  She asks Bones to stay on Yomama as her "mate," and he looks at the top of her head, bugs his eyes, does some weird chewy thing with his mouth and doesn't know what to do with his hands, which I guess means he accepts her proposal and agrees to be her wife. 

While Bones and the curler babe are picking out China patterns, Kirk and Spock sneak into the gravy stain's bedroom.  Spock says the writing on the wall is from a planet called Febreze, which was wiped out when its sun went supernova 10,000 years ago.  It seems odd to me that there would be any examples of writing left from a planet that was most likely blown to bits along with its exploding sun, but I'm sure the Star Trek writers thoroughly researched the effects of a supernova and found out that textbooks would not only survive the explosion, but would float in the icy heart of a dead solar system for ten thousand years until they could be discovered so that Spock could go through the trouble for some reason to learn the useless dead language of an extinct race that no one in the universe had spoken for millennia.  What?  It could happen.

Spock further confirms that the spitball ship must be from Febreze because of a picture on the wall depicting a solar system with eight planets.  Forget that some if not all of those eight planets would have been wiped from existence 10,000 years ago when the sun went boom, I'm struck by the fact that apparently in the vastness of creation only the Febreze solar system had eight planets.  But, hey, they downgraded Pluto so that there are only eight planets in our solar system.  So by Spock's brilliant logic, ours is the Febreze solar system.  Did this guy just claim he was some big science expert and everyone believed him because of those ears?

So the dying planet of Febreze sent the Yomama spitball into space to colonize another planet a quadrillion miles away that it somehow knew about even though the Febrezians had never been there, because a 10,000 year trip ain't a quick run to the post office, and they assumed this new planet would still be there in 10,000 years even though their own planet blowing up should have proved to them that things aren't so permanent in the universe, and they apparently rounded up the biggest morons on their world and didn't tell them they were on a spaceship or what their mission was or where they were going and expected that the idiot descendants of the original morons would be smart enough to rebuild their civilization based on a book hidden in a wall safe behind a spot of gravy on the wall.  Maybe all civilizations, no matter how many high-tech gizmos they can put on the Best Buy MasterCard, inevitably become just too plain stupid to survive.  Now where's my cell phone?  I want to text a pizza to my plasma screen TV.   

Kirk and Spock get zapped by Kodak again for being a couple of little snoopypants, and are sent back to the Enterprise without supper.  Bones stays and gets an electric dog zapper installed in his head.

The gravy stain officiates at McCoy's wedding to the curler babe by talking out its flashlight at them.  The curler babe shows McCoy the book hidden in the wall safe that tells all the secret odor-fighting recipes from ancient Febreze.

McCoy calls Kirk on the phone and tells him about the book, but gets zapped in his head pimple and falls down.  Kirk and Spock show up and remove the electric dog zapper and McCoy's wife gets ticked, but then McCoy removes her pimple and she's free of the control of the gravy stain for the first time in her life.  Her first act as a free woman is to demand that McCoy tell his friends to leave, and she wants to go out to a real restaurant and when is he going to clean out the damned garage?  McCoy begins to have doubts about this wedded bliss stuff.  Thank God for that incurable, killer, dead-by-the-end-of-the-episode terminal illness.

For some unexplained reason the all-powerful gravy stain suddenly loses the ability to zap strangers like squirrels on a power line.

Kirk and Spock get the book from its safe and use it to fix Yomama's guidance system, thus saving all the Derwoods on Darren 5.  By an amazing coincidence that I didn't see coming at all, Spock finds a secret store of medical knowledge that miraculously includes the cure for what ails Bones. 

Back on the Enterprise, Bones is given the cure and as soon as he finds out he's no longer dying, he hightails it away from the giant spitball as fast as his little warp nacelles can carry him, leaving his wife of five minutes to stand on top of the old man's mountain banging a rolling pin against the sky and demanding that he get back home or she's going to toss the burned pot roast in the trash.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "Day of the Dove"

This week's Star Trek answers yet another question we've all asked ourselves at one point or another while gazing up into the black infinity of the night sky: are there leggy chorus girls in outer space?  Sadly, the answer appears to be no.  But if you folks at Planet Caesar's Palace ever find some three-legged, high-kicking B-girl babes and are looking for a great source for giant pink feathers to costume them in while they're dancing around the Android Tony Bennett, have I got an asteroid for you.

The show starts with Kirk, McCoy, Chekov and Ensign Expendable materializing amid some crazy alien fauna that looks like it was mugged off a flamingostrich.  For a terrifying moment I'm afraid we're being prepped for another horrifying Uhura naked fan dance but, thank God, the Klingons show up and smack Kirk in the kisser and take the Enterprise crew members captive instead.

The head Klingon is named Kang, but no one says where Kodos is.

The Klingons blame Kirk for destroying their ship that was in orbit and Kirk says he didn't do it, but the Klingons don't believe him.  I wonder why no one thinks that maybe it might be the handiwork of the suspicious ball of floating light that's hovering ten feet away wearing a pair of dark sunglasses and reading an upside-down copy of Mind Manipulating Alien Monthly.

Kang says he's going to torture the captives one by one, and if Ensign Expendable didn't fill up his space-pants with a couple of photon torpedoes at that moment he hasn't been keeping up with the red shirt landing party death stats posted weekly on the bulletin board outside the ship's 24-hour morgue.

Lucky for Ensign Expendable, Chekov jumps the line and demands to be tortured first, so the Klingons put a deck of playing cards on his cheek and he rolls around in the pool sand on the Paramount sound stage shrieking like they're ripping his accent out by the roots without Novocain.

Kirk secretly signals Spock up on the ship that there are Klingons in the pantry, and before you can say "why not just leave them on the planet so there won't be any trouble like, for instance, the Klingons trying to take over the Enterprise?" Spock beams them aboard and temporarily captures them.

The glowing light in the sunglasses comes aboard too, but it's whistling so nonchalantly with its arms behind its back as it floats away that no one bothers to ask for its passport.

Instead of putting his prisoners in the brig, which seems to make sense to me when dealing with a violent race of bloodthirsty killers, Kirk sets them up on the lido deck near the mahjong tables and all-you-can-eat ice cream sundae bar.  Before Kirk can question them, the stacks of sugar cones and the volleyball net somehow miraculously turn into swords and the Klingons battle the Enterprise crew members all the way back to the cupboard between the lap pool and the shuffleboard court where the spare deck chairs are stored.

Up on the bridge, the floating sparkling light has switched into a false mustache so no one thinks to question it when, after it floats past whistling, there's suddenly a cinder block on the gas pedal and the ship is flying almost as out-of-control crazy as the SUVs of those women who daily nearly run me down while yapping on their cell phones instead of paying attention to the damn road.

Kirk orders the engine room secured but Scotty, who allegedly knows every rivet on the Enterprise, forgets that the engine room has two floors.  Chief Engineer Genius neglects to lock the door to the upstairs apartment and the Klingons waltz in off the fire escape and take over the joint.  Scotty and the couple of guys who escape at least manage to knock out two Klingons outside the engine room doors.  We were told that there were only thirty-eight Klingons and an equal number of Federation crew, so I figure dragging off those two unconscious Klingons to the brig would be a good first step in depleting their numbers.  I'm ashamed to admit that I wouldn't make much of an outer space naval officer like Scotty, who makes the brilliant command decision to run away and leave the unconscious Klingons lying on the floor outside the engine room door so they can wake up and rejoin their pals.

On the bridge, Spock talks to the computer.  The.  Com-pu-tore.  Answers.  In.  That.  Stilted.  Woman's.  Voice.  That.  All.  Futuristic.  Com-pu-tores.  Have.  Okay, so com-pu-tores are annoying in the future.  You're telling me Facebook Timeline isn't a million times worse?

Kirk gets mad but then stops being mad and stares at his balled-up fists saying, "Look at me!  Look at me!" but since he doesn't finish with "I'm wearing a cardboard belt!" I figure he's probably not auditioning for the role of Max Bialystock in the ship's production of The Producers.

 Oy vey, I thought I hit rock bottom with Joan Collins.

 We learn that the diphtheria chrysanthemums that power the ship have eight space minutes of life left in them before the ship is left adrift forever.  But never mind that, because downstairs Chekov is sexually assaulting a Klingon chick with zebra eye makeup.  Before anything good happens, Kirk jumps out of the broom cupboard and punches Chekov in the head.  Probably because sexually assaulting alien babes is the captain's job.

The floating blob of light shows up again but this time it forgot its fedora and Groucho glasses in the men's room, so it's busted.  Kirk and Spock say it thrives on hatred and that it manipulates events to keep the violence going.  I wonder in exactly what year between now and the 23rd Century Hamas and its BBC mouthpieces turn into glowing balls of light.

Kirk says he has to transport directly into the engine room so that he can talk peace with the Klingons.  Scotty says that's nearly impossible because he could materialize inside a deck or a wall.  So they can send people as streams of energy miles away to unexplored terrain with pinpoint accuracy, but a couple of dozen yards within a ship that has been constructed to exact specifications down to a fraction of a millimeter is tricky stuff.

Kirk shows up in the engine room, and so does the glowing ball of light.  It floats around the ceiling like it owns the joint while it gets the head Klingon to sword fight with Kirk (no, I will not go for that easy joke, and get your mind out of the gutter).

Kirk throws down his sword in an act of faith that, were this real life and not two minutes from the end of a TV episode, would mean Spock's first act as captain would be to get McCoy to stitch the head back on for the funeral.

Spock says that "good spirits" will make the mean light bulb go away, so the reluctant boys from St. Klingons who are bashfully studying their shoes on one side of the engine room come over and ask the boys from Federation High to dance.  It's a Starfleet mixer!  The band plays, Scotty spikes the punch, Kang and Kirk throw back their heads and laugh and the glowing light wallflower floats off to pout and cry into its pillow and wonder why that pulsar from Alpha Centauri never called for a second date.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Artwork by Micah Birchfield

The Red Menace close-up
Two drawings of the Red Menace from Micah Birchfield, who has done the main cover art for the last two Red Menace books and both Crag Banyon Mystery covers.

Red Menace

Twelve Days of Christmas

For the love of God, enough already with the "funny" versions of The Twelve Days of Christmas. They are NEVER funny. (Bob and Doug McKenzie excepted.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm glad the brain trust in Washington banned incandescent bulbs. I was sick of using light bulbs that were inexpensive, efficient, long-lived, brighter and didn't give me mercury poisoning. I'm looking forward to a darker, costlier, more toxic future. We need Washington to do more things. C'mon, people! More things! More things! More things!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bond. Remington Bond.

A friend used to insist that the James Bond movies starring Remington Steele weren't as horrible as I knew they must be. I stumbled across the beginning of one a number of years ago, so I decided to give it a shot. Remington Bond was mincing around on top of a dam and wound up bungee jumping down the face of the dam, bungeeing upside-down into an open-air toilet stall where a Russian was sitting on the pot. Forget the whole creepy Larry Craig aspect of the scene and forget that the outdoor dam-toilet only existed because a snickering hack screenwriter stuck it out there as a ridiculous setup. Upside-down in the outdoor toilet and face-to-face with a crapping Russian, Remington Bond quipped something like, "Mind if I drop in?" I certainly did. I shut off the TV. Five minutes with Roger Moore, Jr. was five minutes too long.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Who could've guessed that sort of nasty stuff from an adult male who hung around kids making baby talk with his hand jammed up a puppet's rear end? If only there had been some sign...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "Spectre of the Gun"

At the beginning of this week's Star Trek, the Enterprise is forced to slam on the brakes and leave skid marks across half the solar system when some kid's kite flies out in the spaceway right in front of them.  It's apparently pretty windy up there in the inky blackness of eternity, because every time the Enterprise tries to back up and drive around it, the kite rolls right back in front of the ship.  Damn space kids, why aren't you in school?

Kirk has been ordered into the neighborhood by Starfleet to make contact with a hostile race of xenophobes called the Milkmen, and he's afraid to run over the kite because it's one of those expensive box jobbers and the Milkmen might make him pay for a new one and it's not like he's pulling down bigshot commodore money.

The box kite glows like one of Timothy Leary's hippie daydreams and tells Kirk to get lost.  The Milkmen are washing their hair and aren't interested in Starfleet's vacuum cleaners or encyclopedias.  Kirk says nuts to that and flies right on past the kite, because the best way to ingratiate oneself to a species of xenophobic maniacs is to invade their space and send an armed landing party to their planet. (Frankly, I wish we'd have tried that ourselves in North Korea in our way-off distant Earth past of five years ago when we still had prestige and a military.)

On the planet someone has set the fog machine to Universal Monster Classics and Kirk and his pals are confronted by a giant snake mask with glowing eyes left over from Planet Halloween.  The snake head mask quite reasonably tells Kirk that he shouldn't be there, so Kirk pulls a gun and waves it around to show the Halloween mask who's boss of this here planet, see?

The Halloween snake mask gets mad when Kirk threatens to pop a sci-fi cap in its rattle, and it sends Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Chekov, Sneezy, Grumpy and Dopey to Planet Western.  Yes, that's right.  Planet Western.  God help me.

We learn that the telepathic Milkmen can read minds and somehow learned that William Shatner's Canadian ancestors pioneered the American frontier.  Did I already say God help me?

The buildings in the Western town consist of fake fronts with no side walls and with pictures and clocks hanging in the unrealistic red backdrop sky.  There's some dialogue that tries to explain why the sets are incomplete, but for some reason Spock doesn't mention that in season three the show's budget clearly was slashed from the ten bucks a week from the first two seasons and reduced to whatever they could find under the sofa cushions in producer Gene Rubberbabybuggybumper's office.  Two buttons, a couple of pencil stubs and a roach clip don't buy as many far-out futuristic sets as they used to.

The weird music they played on I Love Lucy when the screen got all wavy at the start of a flashback sequence plays in the background all over Planet Western. The sound department evidently cared pretty much equally as the set department, and instead of varying the music decided to just pop Theremin's Greatest Hits in the eight-track and wander out to the commissary to watch Ben Cartwright eat a tuna fish sandwich.

Scotty can't believe they're on Planet Cowboy.  Because, you know, Planet Indian from a couple of weeks ago made sooooooooo much more sense.

Kirk realizes they're meant to play out the gunfight at the OK Corral.  He meets the Earps, who have brought along their terrible false mustaches to scare Kirk. Kirk tries to be friends by offering them a gallon of the mustache glue he and Chekov use for their wigs, but the Earps are about as interested in what he's peddling as the Milkmen were at the start of the episode.

McCoy meets Doc Holiday all by himself and tries to curry favor by complimenting him on how real his terrible false mustache looks, and I start to wonder that if these Milkmen are such great geniuses at reaching into someone's mind and creating a false reality from the thoughts they find therein, why they can't come up with four real walls and mustaches that don't look like they've been chopped off a horse's rear end and stuck in place with a smear of maple syrup.

Speaking of horse's rear ends, Chekov romances an imaginary bar floozy and Wyatt Earp shoots him when Chekov valiantly stands up to defend the honor of the figment of his imagination.

Bones says Chekov is dead, but there's not much suspense since Chekov has to survive to say "nuclear wessels" years later in the movie where they pick up two whales in California that aren't Scotty and Uhura.

I suddenly realize that if only the costume department had given Kirk a cowboy hat to cover his bald head like Ron Howard, he probably would have been able to leave his wig back in his trailer that week.

Bones, Spock, and Scotty build a bomb out of a can of beans, but it doesn't blow up. They don't realize that for that to happen you have to eat them first.

Wyatt Earp straps on his gun and glues down his mustache for the big fight.

Oh, I got a cowboy on my boots, honey!
I got a cowboy on my boots, babe!
Oh, I got a cowboy on my boots,
An' I'm-a smokin' and-a spettin' my cheroots, Starfleet baby mine!
Hey, do you realize that Bones looks pretty much as old in the 1960s TV show as he did in the movies twenty years later, so he either looked good for 110 or lousy for ninety?

Someone turns the wind machine on high and the air is suddenly full of flying leaves and mustaches.  The only thing holding my interest at this point is wondering if Shatner's wig will fly out the window, through Mission Impossible's front door and land on Martin Landau's wig.

Spock feels up Kirk's, McCoy's and Scotty's faces so that the Earp boys' bullets pass right through them.  Who cares that it makes no sense, it's flying kick time!

Kirk beats up Wyatt and pulls off his mustache but doesn't shoot him, and all of sudden everybody's back on the bridge of the Enterprise and Chekov lives!  Outside, the glowing box kite explodes and the Halloween snake mask Milkman says that he was just a little upset before when he tried to kill everybody with dream cowboys because he had a roast burning in the oven and his wife was out gallivanting with the girls again, and that of course his planet would be delighted to buy some brushes and fine Avon products from the United Federation of Planets, he just needs a minute to slip into something sexy.

As the Enterprise flies off for Planet Milkmen, Kirk tells Spock that man overcame his instinct for violins, so I guess that means there aren't any orchestras in the future but if that's the case how does he explain Jerry Goldsmith, huh?  Or maybe I didn't hear him quite right.  Whatever.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "Is There In Truth No Beauty?"

I once saw a low-budget horror movie where a guy kept his monstrous midget Siamese twin troll brother locked in a box from which he'd escape and sneak around the neighborhood gruesomely killing people.  This week's Star Trek was a little like that only nowhere near as artfully plotted and executed.

The Enterprise Taxi Service, Inc. of the Greater Milky Way and Points West is flagged down at the curb outside a ritzy hotel planet by a woman who needs the crew to schlepp her and her suitcase to the airport.  And step on it, young man, I'm in a hurry.

Inside the little suitcase she's stashed away the Medusan ambassador, a creature so hideous to behold that one spring of his latches drives a human as insane as Margot Kidder hiding in the bushes.  So I'm guessing the Medusan ambassador has kind of the effect that seeing Rosie O'Donnell has on me, if 900 pounds of solid crap could fit in a ten pound American Tourister carryon.

Spock, being only half-human, is allowed to peep in the box provided he wears a pair of elderly James Garner's giant ski goggle sunglasses.  Somehow a red lens on the camera turns the whole room red and makes Gorgons not crazy-inducing, which is nice.  Frankly, I wish they had a behind-the-scenes making-of documentary for this episode, because I'd love to know exactly how the clever technicians in the special effects department figured out how to hold that piece of see-through red plastic in front of the camera, but maybe some TV magic should just be left to the imagination.

The lady with the Rosie O'Donnell mini-monster in her toolbox luggage has brought along a guy named Larry who wants to make out with her and later Scotty wears a dress to supper.

The lady doesn't want to make out with Larry because she likes Rosie O'Donnell in the suitcase --  even though he's just a bunch of flashing green lights, so what would their kids look like? -- so Larry goes to shoot Rosie O'Donnell who, as you recall from earlier in this sentence, is just a bunch of flashing green lights.  So Larry thinks he can shoot flashing light.  You know, just like you can shoot the light coming from the sun with a gun.  I think Larry is kind of nuts already.

Even though he has no arms, somehow the Rosie O'Donnell monster opens his suitcase lid just in time and Larry beholds Rosie's hideous visage.  Larry shows us he's gone nuts by jumping around the suitcase's room like Pee-Wee Herman when he first gets up in the morning in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.

Larry runs down to engineering and makes the ship fly so fast that it flies clear off the script and lands in the groovy kaleidoscopic opening to Family Affair, which I hated but which I got stuck seeing the opening credits to sometimes because my sister was bigger than me.

Once he's stranded them in the Family Affair credits, Larry dies of bad acting.  If that's fatal on the Enterprise now, Shatner and Sulu better run down to sickbay for immunizations, pronto!

Rosie O'Donnell in the suitcase is an expert at navigation, naturally, so Spock decides to mind-meld with it in order to help the ship escape from the cheesy 1960s sitcom opening.  Kirk decides to do his part by distracting the box's chick friend who is in love with the inside of her suitcase by sexually harassing her in the back of the ship.

While Spock goes to the suitcase's bedroom, Kirk takes the woman down to the room where they keep the leftover flowers from some of William Shatner's weddings. 

Kirk woos the lady with all the subtlety of Teddy Kennedy chasing a terrified waitress around a restaurant table with his pants down around his ankles.  The lady suddenly senses that Spock is trying to swipe her luggage upstairs.  Didn't I mention she was psychic?  That's okay, though, because the script forgot to mention that she's blind until now, too, so she can see without sight the beauty of the glowing green vomit light show that is the ghastly Rosie O'Donnell midget hidden inside her carryon bag.  If only the Star Trek writers had tried to convey some diabolically clever observations about our shallow human perception of true beauty, this episode would have had a whole other layer of meaning beyond ugly monsters hiding in your luggage and Kirk's attempted date rape in the Enterprise's flower shop.

I have something so hideous, so terrifyingly ugly in this box that it makes Cher look like...okay, bad example.  But, mister, it ain't pretty.

The suitcase is brought to the bridge and put behind a shield so Rosie O'Donnell can change into a bikini without driving everyone as nuts as whoever wrote this episode.  Spock goes behind the shield wearing his giant James Garner sunglasses and comes out laughing.  At first I'm afraid that he's gone bad-acting crazy like poor Larry, but then I realize that Leonard Nimoy is just as crummy an actor as Shatner always was, he just lucked out that his character didn't require him to act outside of one dimension every week.

Spock is now possessed by the hideous luggage monster who, remember, is conveniently a whiz at navigation, and together they manage to back the Enterprise out of the parking space in Family Affair's opening credits and get them back onto the highway and into this week's Star Trek episode.  I begin to think maybe they'd have been better off hanging out with Brian Keith and his live-in boyfriend, that fat English butler with the beard.

Once the Enterprise is safe, Spock goes back behind the shield to slip into something more comfortable, and Sulu realizes too late that Spock has left James Garner's giant red sunglasses on the navigation console.  Spock gets a full-on look at Rosie O'Donnell in all her ghastliness and he catches the worst case of bad acting on Star Trek since Kirk danced around hugging himself dressed as an Indian in that episode where he had amnesia and thought he was Tonto.

The psychic lady is the only one who can cure crazy Spock because she's got amazing psychic abilities that somehow also can cure people -- with, apparently, the exception of people named "Larry" -- but she's jealous of Spock for looking in her luggage and seeing her dirty underwear and that old busted-open tube of traveling toothpaste she never cleaned up properly.  Kirk decides the best way to get her to save his pal is the "shake, yell at and insult" method, which is the same method he employs with the stewards down in the galley to ensure that his creamed corn isn't laced with spit.

The lady saves Spock who for some reason at the end of the show is wearing an ugly medal with a megaphone glued on it on a giant chain around his neck.  Spock and the lady talk about the medal like I'm supposed to know what the crap they're talking about but I have no idea what they're talking about.  Spock is wearing James Garner's sunglasses again as he beams the lady and her Rosie O'Donnell luggage monster off the ship to Planet LAX. 

It's a good thing Spock remembered to wear his giant sunglasses, because Kirk is standing next to him in the room watching the whole thing without wearing a pair of protective red sunglasses, so Spock will need to be in top form once Kirk, as has been established multiple times throughout the episode, goes crazy and dies in a couple of minutes and Spock is forced to take command of the ship.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Reviews -- We Love Them

Thanks to Randy Johnson of Not the Baseball Pitcher for his review of Devil May Care.

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "And the Children Shall Lead"

On this week's Star Trek, the Enterprise crew lands on Planet Anorexia, where emaciated husks of sci-fi plots shuffle like zombie runway models; an inhumane TV world in which poor withered plots aren't left to die merciful deaths behind the nearest Styrofoam rock, but are instead dragged to their bloody feet and padded up to sixty minutes, minus Clapper commercials.

Kirk, Spock and Bones beam down to Planet Truckasaurus on which a scientific expedition was studying the environmental effects of gray spray paint and a couple of truckloads of pool sand on a Paramount sound stage.  The men and women are all dressed in the multicolored jumpsuits that are so popular in the far-off distant future as well as with retro Sixties James Bond henchmen.  I wonder given the difficulties their wardrobe choice presents if they even bother with bathrooms up in outer space and down in volcano lairs or if everybody just gives up and goes straight for the Depends.

The science crew are all dead and have been arranged around the unrealistic set to look like Jonestown, if those cult people were wearing jumpsuits and were up in space.  For some reason there is something that looks like the blackened and smoking ruins of an old stereo system in the middle of the carnage, and I think that maybe they were listening to Led Zeppelin and got too close to the stage.  Will mankind ever learn that Zeppelin rocks?

The only survivors of the expedition are a bunch of ugly kids in 19th century ladies bathing costumes.  One of them is Felix Unger's daughter.

An interesting 23rd Century sociological fact is revealed: in the future, kids have two parents each.  Take that, current inner city 80 to 90% out-of-wedlock birthrates!

The children are taken aboard the Enterprise where the homely nurse who got her job because she was married to the homely producer feeds them pudding, and I catch Bones taking a quick glance at William Shatner's toupee.  No fooling.

When the kids are alone they utter a magical incantation that summons an alien who looks like the fat, green ghost of Thomas Jefferson but wearing the giant blancmange costume from the science fiction episode Monty Python where giant blancmanges played tennis.  Blancmange Thomas Jefferson says he's the kids' friend, but I don't like the way he tries to lure them into the back of his ghostly van with promises of Snickers and Wii.  It's a good thing they're full of pudding, and he goes away.

The ugliest kid is a creepy ginger wearing the most bizarre of all the 19th century bathing costumes.  He goes up on the bridge and discovers that Kirk and Spock are watching TV and are about to make a startling discovery on the colored plastic casino chip recordings they brought up from the planet.  The ugly ginger kid makes an emphatic rude hand gesture and the Enterprise's TV reception goes out.  There is no explanation at any point during the entire program of how the rude hand gesture that is repeatedly employed has given the ugly kid the ability to knock the tinfoil off the Enterprise's rabbit ears or how, moments later, it can be used to hypnotize Sulu into flying off to Planet Disneyland. 

Frankly, I'm less interested in the explanation for the magic rude hand gesture than I am in the security crewman extra who's hanging around in the background staring straight at the ugly ginger kid the whole time but who doesn't think anything's odd when the TV goes out as soon as the ugly ginger kid makes the rude hand gesture or how Sulu flagrantly disobeys orders and takes off from the planet after the ugly ginger kid makes the exact same rude hand gesture moments later.  For a minute I think that these red shirt security guys are the biggest morons in law enforcement, but then I think of the cops here in town like the one who ran naked through the nursing home or the one who shot another one in a blind panic and got a medal for it and I realize maybe this red shirt isn't so incompetent or unlike real-life after all.

"Yes, captain, I do not dispute that they rock.  However, it was illogical to invite Great White to perform at the annual Starfleet WACs and WAVES rave."

Kirk and the others figure out that there were space pirates or something at some point on Planet Truckasaurus and even though they have been dead for a long time they vowed to return someday.  Yaaarg, me hearties!  Or something ridiculous like that.  Who knows?  God help me, I thought Planet Gangster was stupid.

Down in engineering, a different kid makes a different rude hand gesture.  Hey, kid.  Up yours with bells on.

Kirk goes to the bridge and the ugly kids chant and Blancmange Thomas Jefferson shows up.  The kids make a rude hand gesture that makes Uhura look old, but not as scary as she was when she actually was old in the movie where she did the naked fan dance.  For some reason she's got a mirror glued to her console.  I guess it's because she's a girl, and you know how hard it is to pry them away from the mirror even in outer space, am I right fellas? 

The kids also make a rude hand gesture that makes Sulu see cartoon knives from a Bugs Bunny cartoon flying at the ship.  Seeing cartoon knives scares Sulu into being a worse actor than usual.

It seems to me that Kirk and Spock have had reason as well as ample opportunity to isolate these kids or at least to punch them in their smug little kissers, especially when the evil Blancmange Thomas Jefferson shows up, but instead Kirk just stands around and watches until the little brats rude hand-gesture into submission every bridge crew member one-by-one.

Spock gets rude hand-gestured into disobeying Kirk's orders, but manages to fight off the hypnosis somehow.  Kirk gets rude hand-gestured into acting like a sissy and nearly Frenches Spock in the elevator.  The terror of almost kissing Leonard Nimoy snaps him out of it, and Kirk butches back up again, more or less.

On the bridge, the ugly ginger kid in the 19th century ladies bathing costume is in Kirk's seat.  Felix Unger's daughter is there too.  Kirk picks them up and rattles them around a little, but a less ridiculous plot doesn't fall out. 

Kirk has Spock play a casino chip of the chant the kids sang earlier to summon the blancmange pirate ghost man.  Dogs know the difference between sounds coming from TV and those in real life, but the super-intelligent alien Thomas Jefferson Blancmange ghost comes a-runnin' like I used to as a kid when the Stooges were on.  Maybe his hearing was damaged when the science crew's stereo blew up way back at that rockin' Led Zeppelin show at the beginning of the episode.

Kirk says he's going to show the kids what the blancmange truly looks like.  He plays a casino chip of them and their parents playing space volleyball on the planet with the gray spray paint and the pool sand next to a giant wart.  It looks like the wart is the only structure on the planet, and if everyone was piling in there to sleep at night I wonder if the kids might not be better off in the back of the van of the glowing green pervert who taught them the magic rude hand gestures.   

The glowing green blancmange-man wants to fly the ship to some planet that has lots of people on it who he can hypnotize so he can take over Planet Poland or something.  I don't know, and I haven't really cared for fifty minutes.  All I know is that for a dead member of an extinct alien race who's been locked on an isolated, uninhabited planet for eons, he sure knows his way around the modern-day galaxy.

The kids cry and it gives Thomas Jefferson acne.  Then they cry some more and gives him Elephant Man.  Then they cry some more and it gives him Wicked Witch, and he melts away.

Bones shows up and I wonder: where the hell has Bones been?

Kirk orders the ship off to Starbase Something.  He felt kind of bad earlier in the episode when he beamed two crewmen into outer space and killed them when he thought they were still orbiting Planet Truckasaurus, but he doesn't seem too worried about the landing party he's abandoned back on the planet to which the green ghost of fat Blancmange Thomas Jefferson Pirate is probably heading back right now, and pretty mad I'd imagine, ye scurvy Starfleet knaves!