Posted in: Archer, Character Creation Challenge, Comic Books, Conventions, Cosplay, Doctor Who, Dune, Fan Club, Horror, Horror Hosts, Humor, James Bond, Movies, MST3K, Music, No One Lives Forever, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Spy-Fi, Star Trek, Star Wars, TV Review, Video Game, Website

2021 is in the rear view, now onto 2022

So another year has come and gone and I am glad. While 2021 was not as bad as the year that shall not be named, it wasn’t the easiest. There are still some challenges in this world that I really hope that our society can come together to get past. I’m still trying to focus on the positives of the past year.

==Role Playing Games==

2021 started out with the first #CharacterCreationChallenge. Amazingly enough I was able to knock out 31 characters in 31 days. I loved reading all of the different responses that the other participants and even made a few new friends along the way. I’m looking forward to the 2022 Character Creation Challenge.

There was also the #RPGaDAY2021 Challenge during the month of August. I really had a struggle with this one, but I was glad that I had participated in it.

I also had a chance to finally play an online Star Trek Adventures game. We have a second session in our “one-shot” planned very soon. The kewl thing is, the game was announced with less than a 24 hour start time. I was able to use my Star Trek Adventures entry in the Character Creation Challenge to quickly drop into the game. Playing on just Zoom is difficult, but doable.

I also had some friends get me into an online Starfinder game that lasted several months (with 1-2 sessions per month). It was interesting, but it really turned me off using Fantasy Grounds as an online platform. It’s an app instead of a browser based system and it is a resource hog like nothing else. Even the players with high end computers were having issues. Unfortunately real life caused the game to end after a few months. The Starfinder system is ok, but a bit crunchy to what I’m use to. The Pathfinder in space mentality didn’t really appeal to me either. I know I was gaming more for the company than I was for the system and universe.

I still want to get into a D&D 5th edition game or a regular Star Trek Adventure game. I’d also prefer to get back together with gaming in person, but with the way the variants are running wild, I’m not certain that will happen any time soon. I’m open to an online game if the schedules can be worked out (the same old problems).

There were several new additions to my role-playing game collection. Between purchases and donations from friends I’ve been able to add to my gaming shelf. I also took advantage of several PDF sales. Instead of listing them all here, I’m planning to save them for my Character Creation Challenge entries. I also added to my dice collection including a special die.

==Video Games==

I’m still playing my old standbys of No One Lives Forever and Tron 2.0. However thanks to a gift card for GameStop (actually ThinkGeek) I was able to pick up a few other video games that I’m looking forward to trying out. I’ve been playing Balder’s Gate and it’s been… interesting. I think I might be playing it wrong.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order has been good so far, but I think my daughter is enjoying it more than I am.

==Movies==

Even though it came out the year before, I had the chance to see Wonder Woman 1984 and I enjoyed it. I wished I could have seen it in the theater. 2021 was also the 25th Anniversary of the Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.

Through streaming I was able to enjoy Black Widow and Godzilla vs Kong (wish I could have seen this in the theater).

Finally getting back into the theater I was able to enjoy watching the latest James Bond movie. We finally saw the sci-fi epic Dune and loved watching the new Ghostbusters film. I still want to watch the latest Matrix movie, Spiderman movie and The King’s Man while they are in the theaters.

I’ve also watched a ton of cheesy sci-fi, fantasy and horror films on streaming services. Some were good, some were not so good.

==Television==

Creature Features held it’s 50th Anniversary. During the summer I had my photo aired on a segment of Svengoolie and my kid’s artwork promoted on Creature Features.

Netflix’s Army of the Dead was a good adventure. Amazon’s The Tomorrow War was interesting to watch. Ice Road was also interesting, but probably not a repeat watch. The Wheel of Time didn’t catch my attention at first, but slowly got a little better. I never read the books so I don’t know how it compares. I really enjoyed Foundation after I was worried how the books were going to translate to the screen. Invasion was an interesting concept, but starts out really slow. I’m glad I stuck with it. I need to finish Y: The Last Man and I’m really disappointed that we will only get one season of Cowboy Bebop.

Thank you What We Do In The Shadows, Archer and South Park for being funny. Crossed Swords was a challenge, but I was able to get into it. I’ve really enjoyed the animated Disenchantment series on Netflix. It was also good to see Animaniacs again.

On the Star Trek front, Star Trek: Prodigy has been interesting. I’ve also been enjoying Star Trek: Discovery as well. I really think that Star Trek: Lower Decks has knocked it out of the park. I am really looking forward to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I wish there was more Short Treks. Wil Wheaton’s after show “The Ready Room” has been very enjoyable and informative.

Disney+ brought us several good entries for 2021. The Muppet’s Haunted Mansion was really, really good. I really wish that they would give us more Muppets Now. WandaVision and Loki were really good from the Marvel entries. Falcon and the Winter Soldier was ok. I haven’t seen the Hawkeye series yet but plan to sit down and watch it. I really liked the What If!?! series. On the Star Wars side, The Mandalorian continued to be great. Visions was ok, but I wish I hadn’t binged it since it probably would have been better in smaller doses. The Bad Batch was also enjoyable. There has only been one episode of The Book of Boba Fett so I’ll be watching to see where this goes.

Because I missed a lot of Doctor Who episodes while I was studying for college, I spent part of the year catching up. Not only was I able to complete this task, I was able to watch the latest season as it aired. I’m looking forward to the New Years Day special.

2022 will finally get us the third season of The Orville and I’m really looking forward to the next season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

==Books and Comics==

I really enjoyed the Star Trek: Picard novel, Last Best Hope. There are several other books that I’ve been reading on my kindle and in dead tree format. I’ve been trying to read The Dying Earth series by Jack Vance as well but I haven’t completed them.

The War of the Bounty Hunters in the Star Wars comic series was good, but frustrating. I really wish that they had a better system to follow the flow of the story that spans across several publications. I felt like a few times I was re-treading over the same ground.

The Mirror Universe stories and Star Trek Year Five was really good from IDW Publishing. I’m looking forward to reading more of these stories.

Doctor Who, James Bond and The Orville was other comics I had been pulling from my local store.

==Cosplay and Conventions==

I was able to add the Admiral Picard uniform to my collection. I had a chance to wear this at FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention. It was the only con I attended in the year. Hopefully 2022 will be better convention wise. I’d love to get an Admiral Vance uniform from Star Trek: Discovery or a Monster Maroon from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. However those are long term goals.

==Live Events==

Thanks to 103.1 The Wave, we were able to take the family to Lagoon. With the vaccines helping out, we’ve been able to attend the Trans-Siberian Orchestra performance and the live Mystery Science Theater 3000: Time Bubble Tour. I’ve already got several concerts and events planned for 2022. The Beyond Van Gogh experience was probably the closest I’ll ever get to a holodeck experience. The Egyptian exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Utah was very enjoyable.

I was also interviewed on the radio for the Star Trek Day 2021. That was an interesting experience. But also not the first time I’ve been interviewed on the TV, Radio or even print.

Our Seventh Fleet and USS Ticonderoga meetings and events have been able to get back in person. This was a very good thing as we are a close knit Star Trek family. We’ve been able to grow and succeed because we get together and see each other’s smiling faces.

==Website==

I was able to get some photo albums online and I’ve added to them as I’ve found more photos. I’ve been able to keep to a regular schedule of several blog posts per week (counting the Star Trek Quotes listings). I should do more gaming articles and reviews of things I’ve watched/read/enjoyed. However, I still need to get some of the other sections of my website filled out. I’m a little upset with myself that I haven’t gotten more of the website completed. This will be a goal for 2022.

It’s good to have goals. I think I’m going to spend 2022 trying to achieve more of them.

Posted in: Humor, MST3K, Reviews

MST3K Live Time Bubble Tour visits Salt Lake

My wife and I getting ready to enjoy the show.

In March (of the year that shall not be named) my wife, myself, my brother and his wife had the opportunity to visit the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Cheesy Movie Circus Tour at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City, Utah. Joel Hodgson was the host for the show. We were also introduced to future MST3K host, Emily Marsh. It turns out that we were lucky to see one of the last shows on the Cheesy Movie Circus Tour. A week or two later, everything shut down in the story we all know. That show was one of the few highlights in the year that shall not be named.

Fast forward to a year and a half later and the MST3K Time Bubble Tour arrives back at the same theater in Salt Lake City. Armed with a vaccination card (or proof of a negative test) fans could once again laugh at the live riffing of a bad movie we had hardly heard of. It felt good to keep our sanity with the help of our robot friends. And… not everything went off without a hitch. But that is why they call it a live show.

The show is about to begin.

At the previous show, we were far in the back in one of the balcony sections. My mother had purchased the tickets for all of us as a Christmas gift. For 2021, we purchased our seats on the ground floor only eight rows back. Unlike the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert last month, everything was on the main stage. So we wanted to be as close as possible. We were not disappointed.

Oh no… we’ve been captured in a time bubble by the evil Mega Synthia.

Yvonne Freese came out on stage as Mega Synthia and set up the scene. This clone-relative to the various Forresters (the baddies of MST3K) has invented a time bubble that will surround the theater and move us back and forth in time while she subjects Emily and the bots to the latest experiment, a bad move from 1985 called “Making Contact“. Let’s just say that the movie was worthy of being heckled by the bots.

We are introduced to our cast, Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, Mega Synthia and Emily.

The jokes were wonderful. We were laughing our butts off the entire show. Especially over all of the different 80’s references seen in the movie. You could tell this was made in the days before you had to have permission to show it in your movie. There was a ton of stuff from Star Wars, Sesame Street, major league sports teams, Star Trek and more.

Why is Mega Synthia wearing a 1920’s Flapper outfit? Watch the show to find out.

As with any MST3K show, there were several comedic skits. They were very well done and very funny. I would recommend watching the show to see how these skits, with props, were used in the Time Bubble Tour.

And then… disaster happened.

A light rain which had started when the show begin, turned into a major snowstorm. Friends on twitter had talked about Thundersnow that was happening outside. These were big thick heavy flakes. We don’t know if it contributed directly to what happened in the live show, but I’d believe it. There was only about 20 minutes left in the show when suddenly the lights started flashing and the fire curtain slowly came down in front of the actors. They were waving at us as the curtain reached the stage with this surprised look on their faces. Not knowing if this was part of the show or not, I didn’t pull my phone out to take a photo. Thankfully, Justin Carmony documented the incident on twitter confirming for me (afterwards) that this was not part of the show. The actors had to do some improvisational lines to get us back into the show. The final of the movie was a bit confusing, because I have no idea what happened. Wikipedia doesn’t really have a description of the movie at the end. This also lead to another oddity that afflicted the show.

Are we in the mirror universe?

When all of the graphics come back up, they are backwards. This includes the final skit where we all escape from Mega Synthia’s time bubble. Again more improvisation was required. Luckily, we were able to escape. Only to find out the snow has turned Salt Lake’s roads into a massive slush pile.

Utah drivers are bad enough when the weather is pleasant. Add enough snow to sled down on and you’ve got a slippery situation. So our exciting day is ended by a very long and very slow trip home. Thanks to the iron nerves of my wife behind the wheel, we were able to make it. Remember people, four-wheel drive doesn’t mean four-wheel stop.

If you get a chance to see the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Time Bubble Tour, go. Especially if you’ve ever enjoyed any of the MST3K series. There are tributes to the past actors who have paved the way for this new group and they are carrying the torch proudly.

Posted in: Movies, Reviews

Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters Afterlife

Even Utah had it’s own ghostbusting squad.

Yes, I know, Ghostbusters Afterlife came out last month. Between my favorite holiday, a concert and a bunch of other items on my plate, we hadn’t had a chance to slip out to the movie theater. My wife and I were able to attend a Sunday matinee showing, which was still crowded considering how many weeks the movie had been available. Since the movie has been out for a while, I can be a little bit more spoilerish in my movie review.

Bottom line up front. I loved this movie and I can’t wait to buy the blu-ray to see all of the extras. Nothing in the plot really stood out to me or jarred me out of the story. There is a lot of character development at the start of the movie. I did have a moment where I mentally said “Hey movie, we’ve got our characters now it’s time to do something” and (like it heard me) it started doing something. So yea a little patience at the start will be rewarded.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the other Ghostbuster movies, but I felt confident enough that I could spot any major easter eggs. And sure enough, I saw them. When you are a fan of a series, you get to know the characters and the universe they inhabit. I mentioned one out loud to my wife (the book stacking). However if you have not seen any of the earlier movies, you won’t be lost when you see this latest addition. The plot is pretty straight forward and fits in well with the franchise.

You get to see (almost) all of the familiar face from the earlier movies. Some from various clips, some from deleted scenes that were re-purposed (and very well done). I understand that Rick Moranis is mostly retired from acting (for good reason) but I was really hoping that he would make a cameo appearance. Perhaps someday we will actually get Spaceballs II: The Search for More Money and he can revive his role as Dark Helmet. (fingers crossed) Paul Rudd didn’t make me think of his Antman movies and his reaction to the mini-marshmellow men was perfect.

I was wondering how the ending was going to come about and I was not disappointed. Without giving it away, let me just say that, as a dad, I was actually in tears when everything was wrapped up. There is an early-credits scene (very wonderful) and a post-credits scene so stay until the end. This post-credit scene may be hinting at a future installment in this franchise. With how well this movie is doing in the box office, I hope that can come about.

Another advantage to seeing the movie a few weeks later is that the various easter egg videos have been released. I did a search for them after I got home and found quite a few that confirmed my suspicions. What shocked me is that the “tabloidy” video makers were still trying to run click-bait videos with a movie as good as this one. Just a reminder from me, avoid these videos at all costs. They are trying to use an emotional response to gain clicks. I was able to stick with some main-stream content creators who were able to highlight a the easter eggs I had found or had missed.

With how many upcoming movies that I want to see being released soon (Matrix and Kingsman), I don’t think I’ll get a chance to see Ghostbusters Afterlife again in the theater. So I am glad that I had the chance to do so when we did. This is a movie that I’m glad was delayed from the “year that shall not be named”. It was much better seeing it in the theaters.

Posted in: Dune, Movies, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction

Spoiler free thoughts on Dune

The latest Dune movie adaptation finally came out. As I had mentioned in my James Bond: No Time To Die review, I was planning to see Dune in the theaters. Today my wife and I had some free time to go catch a matinee showing. Not only did I love the movie, but it made me think back to the long relationship I’ve had with this franchise. As I’m writing this blog entry, I can turn my head to the left and see the 1984 Dune movie poster displayed in my office.

Dune is another of the many science fiction and fantasy interests that I inherited from my Father. I remember him being excited for the 1984 David Lynch Dune movie. The advertising was everywhere including a poster on the door at my neighborhood 7-11 store. When the different versions of this movie (with different intros giving more background than the theatrical release) were aired on television, we had to record them on our VCR. On one trip to see family out-of-state, my parents picked me up and we listened to one of the books on CD (it was one of the House books). I remember trying to read one of the later Dune books in high school (I didn’t get very far). But I was able to read not only the first book, but several of the books by Bryan Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. The remaining books are on my reading list to complete.

I don’t recall much from the two mini-series released by the Sci-Fi Channel (now the SyFy Channel). While I’ve watched the 1984 movie again on several occasions, I’ve never sought out the mini-series. I’ll have to make an effort to re-watch these so I can recall them for times such as this one.

Being very familiar with the source material helped me watch this latest movie. No, if you are going in cold you won’t be lost. There is a very rich universe that was created for the book and it may be a lot to take in at once. I wouldn’t be surprised if several showings are needed to take in the rich detail. But being familiar with Dune, I noticed little details that made me appreciate the efforts that went into the making of this film. Seeing these smaller items made me appreciate the film even more.

In the 1984 movie, the music was performed and assembled by the band Toto. Finding the rare CD of the music was one of my goals for the longest time. When I finally found a copy that wasn’t overpriced, I snatched it up and listened to the heck out of it. The soundtrack that was played when the Harkonnens were attacking is still one of the best movie music moments that I’ll never forget. For this new movie the very talented Hans Zimmer put together the musical tracks for this movie and he didn’t disappoint.

There are a few familiar actors in this movie and several that I’ve never had the pleasure to watch before (that I know of). Jason Momoa was an excellent Duncan Idaho. Our Duke Leto was played by Oscar Isaac, better known for his role of Poe Dameron in the last round of Star Wars movies. I didn’t recognize him right away as he had a very full beard. I hope we see more of Dave Bautista as the Beast Rabban in the second Dune movie. While he had some good lines in the first movie, his character has a big part in the story. Josh Brolin also delivered as well. Of the cast I was not familiar with, our young Paul Atreides is played by Timothée Chalamet. He actually did quite well in the roll. I felt that this character was green at the start of the movie and was developing by the end. Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica was another high point in the movie. I think that the producers put together an excellent cast for this movie.

The special effects were also really good. The Guild Highliners were very well designed on a grand scale. The ornothopters also had a very good effect that even my wife commented on it. I felt like we were really on a hostile desert world. The sandstorm did give me one moment that I wanted to heckle. I wanted to say out loud (but stopped myself) that I could see Mad Max and Furiosa could be seen driving the rig into the sandstorm. Not to say that this was a bad moment, it just gave me a flashback to the Mad Mad: Fury Road scene. I also really liked how they did the special effects for the personal combat shields. You could tell that there was

We did get to see the Sardaukar Troops and I felt that this interpretation was much better than what we saw in the 1984 movie. The books really described them as a nasty bunch of soldiers and I felt that we got that in this movie. The Fremen that we get to see in this movie also give you an excellent feel of native members of Arrakis. They were brutal and aware of what was happening. We actually got to see the rhythmic walking on the sand.

I had typed in a few additional thoughts on the movie that I then had to remove in order to keep this review spoiler free. They were minor concerns that I hope are resolved in the second movie, Dune Part Two, that was just announced.

And the last note I wanted to make was about Dune: Adventures in the Imperium Role Playing Game that was just released a few months ago by Modiphius. Thanks to a birthday gift card to Amazon I was able to pick up the hardback core rule book. The 2d20 system was similar to what I saw in Star Trek Adventures, but it was better laid out. There are some differences between the two books but after talking with players of the other 2d20 systems from Modiphius, I understand that this is common. I was pretty impressed with how they set this RPG up. There was details about political intrigue and duels.

The next movie that I’m interested in seeing in the theaters is the new Matrix sequel. I don’t think that is one I’d want to watch on my home television. With the matinee viewing the theaters haven’t been too crowded and it has made for an enjoyable experience.

Posted in: James Bond, Movies, Reviews

My first movie viewing at the theater in years: No Time To Die

We’ve asked The Doctor to use is TARDIS to bring you all together to deal with this situation.

NOTE: This discussion will be spoiler free as ordered by Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

On Monday my wife and I had an opportunity to go do something that we hadn’t done since the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in 2019, see a movie in the theater. Complete with popcorn and drinks. Oh how we have missed this. We felt safe going because it was a matinee show in the middle of a weekday. There was not a lot of people in the theater.

I enjoy watching movies in my home. I’ve got a good TV setup that allows me to watch a variety of movies from DVDs/Blue-Rays and streaming services. I even have a tablet set up so I can watch streaming videos while I work on my computer (currently I’m watching a surprisingly good fantasy movie that I’m thinking about writing a review for). This has it’s advantages as well as it’s disadvantages. At home I can turn on subtitles, pause the movie when it’s time to grab more snacks or use the facilities. However if the movie is dull I may find myself distracted by my phone or other shiny things that may take away my attention. Dwarves of Dragon Mountain falls into this later category. Several months later I barely remember any of the details of the movie.

In the theater, my cell phone is put on silent as to not disturb the other attendees. There is great surround sound and a very large screen. My attention is fully focused on the screen. In 2020 I saw several movies on TV that I wish I could have seen in the theater. These were Scoob! and Bill & Ted Face The Music. I also don’t know why, but the buttered popcorn taste better coming out of the bucket.

When I suggested that we go see No Time to Die at the spur of the moment, my wife jumped at the opportunity. I think she missed going to the theater as well.

I had wondered if I should have re-watched some of the other Daniel Craig entries into the James Bond franchises? While it may have helped since several of the movies are linked together, you shouldn’t have to watch the previous ones to pick up where the story is going. As a James Bond fan I noticed several Easter eggs that had been dropped throughout No Time to Die. There were several audio tracks from past Bond movies. Callbacks to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Never Say Never and others. They had paintings of the past M’s at MI-6 headquarters (a nice touch). Q had his moment to shine in several scenes, including the standard tech briefing. We see past allies and new friends. The bad guy didn’t impress me as much as past foils. But he did the job that was set before him. Bond had his “wonderful toys” which he was able to use to get out of several situations. We get to see dazzling women (who do quite a bit of butt kicking) and Bond in his tuxedo. A look I wish I could pull off. Scenes of intense action, car chases and death defying stunts. James Bond gets to drop a sarcastic remark at the right time and (as you have probably guessed) he saves the world. There were a few “oh” moments for both me and my wife and not once did I feel the need to heckle anything. This was a James Bond movie that checked off all of the boxes.

I was curious about a few things that happened and how it will affect the future of the franchise. These aren’t bad things, just questions I had in my mind when the film was over. There is no after credits scene, but the last words posted was “James Bond Will Return”. I just hope it doesn’t take a long time before the next James Bond movie comes out.

One thing I do know is that it won’t take very long for me to get back into the theater. The Sci-Fi epic, Dune, and the sequel movies, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Matrix Resurrections and the prequel The King’s Man will be released very soon. I will be watching those movies in the theater as well with a bucket of popcorn ready to share. Until then I will bask in the glory that is Bond. James Bond.

Posted in: Reviews, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction

Re-watch of the Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes DVDs
Planet of the Apes DVDs

I just finished watching all five of the classic Planet of the Apes movies using the Legacy Collection of DVDs. I had originally started this watch through several months ago when I was prepping for the Apes Victorious entry in the Character Creation Challenge.

I remember watching the different shows when they were shown on the mid-Saturday movie time slot on KSTU (back when they were still channel 20 on the dial). They were show in different order, but I just remember being enthralled by the thought of a “planet of talking apes”. This was what science fiction was, the whole “What If” scenario. Sometimes and idea pops up and says “What if there was a planet populated by talking apes?” Not only did this make for an entertaining series of movies, but a good set of comic books as well. I’ve always felt that this would be an excellent world to conduct role-playing sessions in. That was part of the reason I was interested in Apes Victorious when I saw it on DriveThruRPG.

The disks in this Legacy Collection included the following.

Planet of the Apes (1968)- The original movie that started it all. Several astronauts returning from a long journey crash land on a desolate planet. After several days of traveling through wastelands they discover mute humans being hunted by intelligent apes. These apes are divided into several categories. The warlike gorillas, the chimp scientists and the orangutan leaders. I still enjoy watching this film when I can. The ways that the actors are still able to portray their art through the makeup still astounds me.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)- A second set of astronauts searching for the first group find the planet. Following the path (and meeting the same characters from the first movie) our heroes discover that a race of mutant survivors with physic powers live under the surface of the destroyed city. While some of the special effects look a little dated, the plot works. This was originally going to be the end of the series.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)- Three apes (two of which we know from the earlier films) use one of the spacecraft used by humans and accidentally get sent back to the current time. The apes are treated like celebrities until human fear of their unborn child takes over. It was good to see Ricardo Montalban. The way the apes got back into the past seemed a little “whoops how do we get out of this corner we’ve painted.” but otherwise a good film.

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)- The child of the two talking apes returns to see what is happening to the other apes that are trained by the humans to do subservient tasks. How far can they be pushed? An interesting uprising film. The ending was a little weird, but I understand that they changed it at the last minute.

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)- Set a few years after the events of Conquest, Caesar is trying to create a community with apes and humans living side by side. But what happens when old grudges arise from both inside and outside of Ape City? This was an interesting ending to the series. I thought I had recognized singer Paul Williams as one of the orangutans.

Behind the Planet of the Apes (1998)- A very good behind the scenes documentary hosted by Roddy McDowall showing the legacy of the five classic films and the impact that they have had on society. It also talks about the animated series, the TV series and the merchandising.

This DVD set is an excellent resource if anyone wants to role-play in this universe. I only wish that it also contained the TV series and animated series. There are also a series of comics from Malibu Comics and Boom Studios that would also be invaluable for Ape Masters (Game Masters). Proof that there are more stories to tell in the Planet of the Apes universe.

Posted in: Reviews, Star Trek

Book Review- Star Trek: Picard The Last Best Hope

Last Best Hope cover
The cover to the Star Trek: Picard novel “The Last Best Hope”

Note: This article that I wrote originally appeared at www.SeventhFleet.org

Book Review- Star Trek: Picard The Last Best Hope

Title: Star Trek: Picard The Last Best Hope

Author: Una McCormack

Page count: 336

Breakdown: Fifteen chapters in three parts.

Year Published: 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3944-5 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3945-2 (ebook)

The Last Best Hope is the first novel based on the CBS All Access (now Paramount+) series “Star Trek: Picard”.  I recently had a chance to purchase this book for my Amazon Kindle to add to my reading list.  Being the first book in the series, I knew that I just had to know the show and not any previous books (I’m doing a lot of catch up on my Star Trek reading right now) so I was eager to open this book up and explore.

                This book starts out with Starfleet Command approaching Captain Picard with the task of assisting the Romulan Star Empire after the discovery of the supernova that will destroy countless inhabited planets.  The newly promoted Admiral Picard is immediately moved into a role of coordinating the relocation efforts that the Federation extends to the Romulans.  He first meets Lt. Commander Raffi Musiker who briefs the Admiralty on the supernova that we first learned about in the 2009 Star Trek movie. 

                There is a lot of discussion about how the Federation would handle such an evacuation.  The resources needed, the ships built, and the manpower required.  What projects would be placed on hold just to accomplish such a goal.  There is a lot of insight into what happens with refugees.  Especially when the government like the Romulan Star Empire is built upon keeping secrets.

                Author Una McCormack introduces us to several of the characters we will get to know in the Star Trek: Picard television series.  The above-mentioned Raffi Musiker and her time as Picard’s Executive Officer on the USS Verity.  We get an insight into the effects the mission has on her family life.  Doctor Bruce Maddox mentors a student known as Agnes Jurati.  This mentoring develops into a relationship, especially when Dr. Maddox is forced to abandon his life’s work to develop a form of artificial ship builders known as the Synths.  One of he Romulan planets that is evacuated by the Verity contains Zani and the band of warrior nuns known as the Qowat Milat.  Here Picard meets a very young boy named Elnor.  While not seen in the series, Geordi La Forge features prominently in this novel as he heads up the shipbuilding efforts at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards building the Wallenberg Class transport.  We also get a chance to meet future Fleet Admiral Kirsten Clancy at Federation Headquarters.

                There is also a rich band of characters that are introduced for this novel.  Estella Mackenzie works at Utopia Planitia alongside La Forge and comes up with the idea of creating androids to help with construction.  With the supernova being a unique event, Doctor Amal Safadi at Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy conducts several studies.  He tries to get a hold of his Romulan counterpart, the scientist Doctor Nokim Vritet who first discovered the disaster that had befallen his people.  On the USS Verity are two interesting individuals such as Lt. Koli Jocan, a Bajoran who is very familiar with relocation due to the history of her people and provided one of the most inspirational moments within the book.  The other is the Romulan “cultural liaison officer” Lt. Tajuth sent to make sure that Picard considers Romulan interest while within their territory.  Tajuth provides quite a bit of insight into the Romulan culture.  One of the more interesting characters is Olivia Quest.  A politician who is a representative from the agricultural colony near the Romulan border called Estelen.   She provides a lot of insight into how the smaller worlds within the Federation feel about the sudden influx of Romulan refugees into the area. 

                With this book set before the Romulan star exploded I was wondering if we were going to see or hear from two individuals.  The first one, Spock, did not disappoint me.  I was also wondering if we were going to hear anything about Nero and his crew.  They did not make an appearance, but this may have been due to (at the time) the rights to characters from the 2009 movie.

                The writing style and detail provided by the author delved very deeply into the characters and various sub-plots.  The short chapters made for quick reading.  Unfortunately, my reading schedule only allowed for short reads each day.  Most of these I did not want to put my reading tablet down.  I found myself spending extra time reading “just a few more pages”.  The writing was that engaging in the story and characters. 

                This was also the curse of the book.  The main characters seen in the show had their stories wrapped up by the end of the book in a very good story.  I’m not certain if there was a limit on the number of pages, but it seemed like the very well written characters introduced into the book were quickly wrapped up in a few pages.  This disappointed me a little.  With how well these characters had been written, I was hoping to find out more about what happened with them at the end of the book.  Perhaps this could be an opportunity to see some of these characters again in future novels.

                If you enjoyed watching the first season of Star Trek: Picard and would like to know how some of the characters developed before the television series, I would highly recommend The Last Best Hope.

Posted in: Horror Hosts, Humor, MST3K, Quotes, Reviews, Star Trek

MST3K: The Movie 25th Anniversary

On April 19, 1996, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie was released into theaters riffing on the sci-fi classic “This Island Earth“. Unfortunately, it was only twenty six theaters on the opening weekend. I remember wanting to watch this movie the moment I heard the news about this special show. I don’t recall when it finally came to Utah, but I was there when it made it’s Beehive State premier at a Salt Lake City art theater. MST3K: The Movie was shown at The Tower Theater on 9th and 9th. It may have been one of the many cult midnight movies that this theater was known for showing. I went with a group of friends who were all excited to see the movie. In typical MST3K fashion, we riffed the movie in the theater. The one I remember the most was at the start when Michael Nelson was in the hamster wheel. While he was jogging, we all started singing the theme from Rocky. Da-da-daadaa Da Da da…. Gonna Fly NOW!!!!! We were constantly quoting lines from this movie at various opportunities. One of the more unique ones is when the crew sings “normal view. Normal View. Normal View! NORMAL VIEW!!!”. We were playing the Star Trek: Customizable Card Game where one of the cards was titled Mortal Q. You can guess what we sang.

mortal q. Mortal Q. Mortal Q! MORTAL Q!!!!

I remember getting excited when the movie was finally released on DVD. I called my bother (another MST3K fanatic) and let him know it was out since I didn’t know the stores had it at the time. After purchasing, watched this movie over and over again. I had only wished that the original MST3K: The Movie DVD had the original film as one of the extras. It wasn’t until Svengoolie had shown This Island Earth on The MeTV Network several years ago that I had a chance to watch the uncut version of the film. Svengoolie even mentioned the MST3K movie as one of the first introductions to this movie that a lot of people had experienced. There was 30 minutes cut from the original film for the MST3K. Because of how many times I’ve watched this movie, I’ve had some RPG homebrew ideas for the Metalutians. When I get the examples done, the Metalutians will be one of the demo aliens that I’ll be creating.

In honor of the 25th Anniversary today, I found the DVD I had watched a million times and put it into the DVD player. I took some notes while watching for this blog. I loved how the opening scene (after the Rocky run) was an escape attempt and explanation of why Mike and the bots are on the SoL. This gave movie viewers who hadn’t seen any MST3K episodes a quick guide into the setup of the show. I’ve always thought that the “bow down” scene was a little disturbing. Yea we want to show that Dr. Forrester is EEEEVVVVIIILLLL (and a bit of a dickweed) but that always seemed to bother me for some reason. The only reason I can think of is that he was never that nasty on the TV episodes. Yea he was evil, but not “kneel before Zod” evil. I wonder how many people watching the movie now will get the “John Sununu goes for a haircut” joke? I liked how they used the film breaking to give Mike and the Bots a chance to do a skit. Just breaking for a skit like they do in episodes may have confused audience members not familiar with the show. I don’t know why I never noticed that the switch activating the manipulator arms is marked “Manos” (as in Hands of Fate). Good job on that one. The names of the “invisible pilots” are Claude Rains (who played the invisible man) and Harvey the Rabbit (another invisible character). Another item that was different in the movie compared to the TV shows is the crew riffed the end credits to the movie. And I also counted, there were eight Star Trek references in the film.

Some of the lines that stood out in the film.

“Service engine soon” I wonder what that’s all about?

Science and Industry! See big men sticking screw drivers into things – turning them – AND ADJUSTING THEM!

Well believe me, Mike, I calculated the odds of this succeeding versus the odds I was doing something incredibly stupid… and I went ahead anyway.

Now place your hands above the rail [hands suddenly attach to the rail] … they’re magnetized. And if your hands were metal, that would mean something.

Increase the Flash Gordon noise and put more science stuff around!

Are you in Europe? Do you need an adapter?

Offer void in Utah.

It was great to watch this movie again. If you are a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, they are currently running a Kickstarter to make more episodes. You can support them at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mst3k/makemoremst3k

Posted in: Reviews, Sports

The best laid plans…

Evey February I would sit down with a large number of snacks and appetizers and watch some expensive commercials interrupted by a sporting event. There would be a commercials that would be funny, others would tug at the heartstrings. And finally there would be a series of commercials that would air and everyone at the party would look at each other and whisper “Did they really spend money on a commercial like that?”

So while we were not getting together with friends for a super bowl party, I was thinking that I could write up a blog post on what commercials made me laugh and what commercials I’d be talking with co-workers about the next day.

Errrr…. What was that saying about the best laid plans?

I watched the commercials. And there were a few things of note. But the commercials just were not as good this year. It use to be that this was… well the super bowl of commercials. Corporations would spend millions of dollars producing top of the line ads. You would see these adds for weeks to come just because they were trying to get a return on the investment. We would laugh about them as we talked around the water cooler.

The commercial with the baby adoption was a good at tugging the heartstrings. I also really enjoyed Bruce Springsteen and the Jeep commercial about America (a message that was sorely needed). The M&Ms commercial was funny. Will Ferrel tried with his electric cars commercial, I just don’t find him that funny. I liked the Wayne’s World shop local commercial, I just don’t feel the urge to use an overpriced delivery service. The Paramount+ commercials were also good, but I had already seen them since they had been released online prior. When I was talking with a lot of people who had been interested in the commercials in the past and their response was “Meh, I’ll just watch it on YouTube.” I think we are missing the opportunity to do something all together at the same time.

I notice that the commercials just didn’t hold as much water this year. I didn’t really have a vested interest in either of the teams. I don’t really have any loyalty to an NFL team since there isn’t one located in Utah. As I was watching the last half of the blowout game, I was hoping that the Chiefs would come back and make the game interesting. Then it hit me. When the game is dull (looking at you Patriots and Rams from a few years ago) the commercials end up dull as well. Probably because when the game is bad, my attention starts to wander.

Now I understand that we’ve just gotten over a bad year. But I really feel that the advertisers missed the mark by not delivering more comedic advertising. Give us a reason to smile and make things fun around here. That would have made your product placement much more memorable. Now is the time to get started for next year.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention. I was originally watching the game on a Comcast/Xfinity provided channel. It was playing English during the pre-game. But for some reason it switched over to SAP (Spanish) when the game started. No matter where I looked on the Xfinity remote there was no option to hit SAP to see if it would go back to broadcasting in English. So I turned on my CBS All Access (soon to be named Paramount+) and watched the game that way. The sports on the streaming service had no problems what so ever. I was pretty impressed.

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