Posted on November 22, 2019
Oh no, a criminal has transferred his consciousness into Bashir via trans-glial-something-or-other. Join us on the podcast to see if Dax can come up with some last minute mumbo jumbo to save the day.
James Cameron has said he woke from a dream about a relentless, unstoppable killing machine and wrote the first draft of The Terminator. That makes sense, except he didn’t write a story about a robot. He wrote a story about a woman.
We didn’t fork over our money and eat stale popcorn to watch the T-800 ruthlessly pursue a waitress from Bob’s Big Boy. We were there to experience the transformation of a girl into a badass warrior woman. In the process, Termintor 1 becomes one of the most emotional, transformative action movies ever made.
The ending as she sadly narrates her escape into the wilderness is so far from the girl who just couldn’t quite handle the pressures of waiting tables it’s hard to believe she’s even played by the same actress. And the impact of that ending is only increased by her appearance in the second film, now completely transformed into a monomaniacal crusader for the future.
Thinking about this, I was reminded that many of the action movies I love most have a deep, emotional narrative beneath the superficial violence. The only thing John Wick loves more than his dog is his vengeance. John McClean is dealing with a lot more than just terrorists trying to take over a high rise. Furiosa’s need to save the concubines from Immortan Joe drives Fury Road.
And, by the same token, many of the lackluster action flicks failed less because of cliched plots or a trope laden set pieces than the inability of the audience to emotionally connect with the story. The Last Action Hero hit all the high notes of an 80s action movie and no one cared. I Am Legend was so emotionally cold, not even Will Smith combined with cutting edge CGI could rescue it. (I’m still waiting on the good version of I Am Legend. It’s one of my favorite novels.)
So here’s hoping James Cameron and Tim Miller have made something to restore a once beautiful franchise.
I just started Watchmen on HBO and am astounded at how good it is. Whenever a show like this debuts I wonder if it’s going to be a Game of Thrones type show or a WestWorld type show. Watchmen appears to be of the WestWorld variety.
Game of Thrones was an intense experience I tuned into with addictive frequency to see whom would be killed, banished, or beheaded next. But I never spent time away from the show thinking about the broader implications of the story. It was an entertaining but intellectually disposable soap opera.
On the other hand, I watched each episode of WestWorld every night until the next one came out. I also spent time online chatting about the implications of robots capable of replacing humans, discussing the mystery of the Man in Black, conjecturing on the true mission of the park.
The OA was very much a WestWorld type show. Stranger Things, on the other hand, falls into the Game of Thrones column. There is nothing wrong, by the way, with either column. They are just two different ways of enjoying entertainment. I happen to slightly prefer the way the WestWorld experience delightfully engages my obsessive need to uncover answers to mysteries over spending hours in whispered huddles discussing who killed or boinked whom.
I did come up with one theory regarding Game of Thrones: I feel like the planet it takes place on doesn’t have a wobble and therefore has no seasons. It’s always snowy and cold in the North so when they say “Winter is coming” they mean a periodic glacier or ice age is advancing southward. Shrug.
Anyway, I’ve already started tracking down the extra documents for Watchmen and have begun watching the debut episode every night so I can begin theorizing about what’s going on. It’s very much a WestWorld experience.
This is a tiny collection of logic holes in science fiction. Now, this is for my personal amusement only. In most cases these holes don’t ruin anything. They’re just fun to think about after the fact. So why don’t they…
…have robots in Star Trek?
It occurred to me while watching humans crawling all over the ship trying to fix things that, as advanced as the technology is 400 years from now, they’re still doing everything themselves. Was there a robot revolution? A Butlerian Jihad of some kind? There are some robots scattered throughout the Star Trek universe, but not the workaday droids we see in Star Wars, machines that would be responsible for the constant upkeep of starships like the Enterprise.
…have relativistic kinetic weapons in Star Wars?
Why do they need a Deathstar? You can get the same effect by hyper-accelerating an asteroid and smashing it into a planet. Just ask the dinosaurs. It wouldn’t require a million soldiers or thousands of vehicles or an exhaust port.
…just have a bomb drop out of hyperspace and explode?
Ships in hyperspace appear to be untrackable in Star Wars. Instead of a WWII style bombing run, why not just have a ship loaded with fissile material drop out of hyperspace among the enemy ships and detonate?
…have armor and air support in the first attack on Klendathu?
This one I’ve complained about before. There is no way a modern army (or future one) would launch a ground assault without support. It was just stupid.
…implant proximity explosives in Replicants?
I mean, they coded incept dates into them. Why not add Escape From New York style explosives in their carotid arteries that pop when they arrive planetside on Earth?
Having finished season one of Farscape, we jump into the Star Trek universe with both feet as I finish up TNG on my own and we take on the Deep Space Nine pilot. Come listen to Mike and me talk about this and so much more (because I really do wander off subject all the time).
Every generation of car culture should have a basic, sturdy, dependable vehicle to free them from their family homes and open the road to adventure. Now, I’m completely aware that car culture is dying, but this post is not about the future. It’s about the past.
For the Boomers, the general-purpose automobile was the VW Bug. For my generation, the one formed by the tail end of Boom, that car was the Toyota Carolla. If there was ever an automobile analog to the white cans with BEER written in black letters on the side, it was the 1974 Toyota Carolla Sedan base model.
Standard four-on-the-floor transmission, power nothing, no air-conditioning against the Austin summer, black wall tires. It had seatbelts, but I didn’t use them back then. The four-cylinder engine had no acceleration but it also didn’t have much top end.
The Boomers were stuck with a wobbly, imprecise gear shifter in the VW, but the Carolla had one of the nicest, strongest transmissions I’ve ever seen. In the VW, pushing the shifter forward could land you in 3rd gear or Reverse, odds were about even. With the Toyota, it was almost point and click; a must for newbie drivers not used to a standard.
There was no fuel injection and there should have been a tune-up every six months, but the sturdy, well-machined motor could go a lot longer before the points collapsed and left you with two speeds: puttering along at idle and red zone 70mph. Again, very important for a forgetful seventeen-year-old.
Gas wasn’t cheap by the time I got my license so the stingy 1.6L four-cylinder engine was important to a starving college dropout’s budget.
With no power controls, it could be a real hassle rolling up all four windows once you were done driving in the heat, but that’s where the hardy and damn near indestructible vinyl upholstery came into play. Why roll the windows up by hand when rain would have no effect on the interior?
One of my great regrets was selling the Carolla for a treacherous Mustang II that never missed an opportunity to strand me on the side of the road or wipe out my savings account with a major repair. The only car I ever loved more was the Alfa Romeo GT I owned while living in Italy. Had to give that one up when we couldn’t fit a child carrier in the meager backseat.
Here is a rated list of all the cars I’ve owned:
- 1969 Mustang – Unreliable but so beautiful
- 1974 Carolla – As described above
- 1976 Mustang II – Nightmare
- 1980 Citation – First car with a working air-conditioner. Only had it for a year, but it was fine and just a joy to have A/C against the Texas summer.
- 1972 Alfa Romeo GT – The one that got away
- 1987 LeBaron – Nightmare, never bought another Chrysler
- 1990 Hyundai Sonata – Another nightmare, never bought another Korean car
- 1980 Accord Hatchback – Super reliable, very ugly, would do a complete 180 if you pumped the brakes too hard
- After that, it’s just a bunch of Accord sedans. Always reliable, never fun to drive.