Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

I am teaching a young author's class this summer and I wanted to try to engage my students by sharing with them short stories that also had visual counterparts. Strangely, my 3-5 grade students are obsessed with dark stories, which comes out in their writing. So when I was thinking of book examples to share with them, I immediately thought of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. In the last Harry Potter movie, they have that interesting animated vignette of "The Tale of the Three Brothers." Hermoine reads it and a shadow puppet style animated short is shown. It plays out the story.

So what I did was read the short story to them first. Then we watched the video and talked about how the images connected to the story. They loved it! Why do I need my students to connect images with a story? They are writing their own stories that they will also have to illustrate. So matching a story up to images is part of writing a storybook. I also showed them actual storybook examples.

Another reason I wanted to read stories to them was so that they could draw from their exposure. I asked the students to share what they were reading right now (or at home) and we looked them up on Then we talked about how they were using their inspiration from their current story to enhance their own story. This was something I got from a video interview I watched on Rick Riordan (The Percy Jackson & the Olympians Series). He had a little video where he gives advice to young authors and his three rules of writing are:

1. Read ALOT! As a writer it is your fuel. You have to "ingest those voices" which help create your own voice.

2. You have to practice! It's like a sport. You have to actually write a little bit everyday to help you improve. Build those writing muscles!

3. Don't give up! Keep going and have the determination and self-confidence to keep going.

In order to help my students achieve this, we've been doing little writing activities and I've been reading books to them and short stories. It has been an amazing experience. And that is why I used The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Each day we read a different short story. They wanted to hear them all, so we worked through the stories together. I didn't read all the additional commentary, because the students hadn't actually read the Harry Potter books (no... they saw the movies instead). So we used the short stories as inspiration and fuel.

Wow, look at all the nerdism coming through in this post just over one little story connection. The kids loved it and their stories are really exploding with creativity! The little stories in The Tales of Beedle the Bard were enjoyable, because they were still part of the Potter World, but without being part of the central story. The Hermoine commentary, which I did read on my own, was interesting and just builds on the universe Rowling created. Cool beans!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Star Trek: The Original Series - Episode 14: Balance of Terror

Episode 14 - Balance of Terror
  •  Is. . . is this a wedding?
  • Ok... thanks Kirk for setting up that something is about to happen during this gathering.
  • McCoy is all happy leaning against the wall. . . where's Spock? Oh.. on the Bridge avoiding feelings.
  • Kirk and Janice mirroring the two people getting married. Awe... adorable!
  • OH NO!!! CRISIS!!! Better make this a quick honeymoon!
  • Romulus and Remus! ROMULANS!!! AWESOME!
  • Momentary pausing of the episode reveals Kirk's heavily laid eyeshadow!
  • Romulan Empire and the Earth Zone. The Neutral Zone in-between. Interesting Map. (Earth Outpost Sector Z-6 and the Romulan Star Empire, below which says Romulous and Romii. . . Remus.)

  • Earth Romulan Conflict over a century ago. Fought with primitive atomic weapons, no quarter and no captains and no ship-to-ship visual communication. We've never seen each other.
  • Entering the Neutral Zone means WAR!
  • Painted like a giant bird of prey!
  • The Enterprise is Expendable if issues arise.
  • WOAH!!! You can marry your superior officer? That's crazy! 
  • Revealed: She's a MAN BABY! (He tells her to "get back to work buddy.")
  • They've taken out four of our bases! 
  • No Room for Bigotry on the Bridge! ("Leave any bigotry in your quarters. There's no room for it on the bridge."- Kirk to Stiles, after he implies that Spock could be a Romulan spy)
  • Plasma torpedoes?
  • Ooooo cloaking systems!
  • Toga like uniforms, but with shorts. Interesting
  • Weaponry is superior to ours. We are totally screwed.
  • Kirk has another captain who thinks like him. Oh this could lead to trouble! How impressive is Kirk that an arrogant Romulan is taking steps towards respecting his ability to maneuver and being an awesome captain!
  • Spock: Circuit Mechanic
  • Ship crumbles with dust? (Every time the Romulan ship is hit by the phasers, the walls crumble. If they're so superior, why is their ship crumbling? Note for the future: Please do not use plaster and dry wall on your ships.)
  • "I wish I were on a long sea voyage somewhere. Not too much deck tennis, no frantic dancing. And no responsibility." - Kirk to McCoy, on the Romulan incursion.  (He just wants to go on a cruise with no crazy dancing, what more can a man ask for!!)
  • McCoy's got the answers! "In this galaxy, there's a mathematical probability of three million earth-type planets...and in all the universe, three million million galaxies like this one. And in all of that, and perhaps more, only one of each of us. Don't destroy the one named Kirk."
  • Spock, was hitting that button to accidentally initiate a signal to the Romulans planned?
  • 23 causalities? from radiation? Oh, not deaths. . .there was only 1 death.
  • SCOTTY!!! Not Mr. Scott. SCOTTY!
  • And the groom is dead! Do we know this earlier than now because of how jaded we are? 
  • People need to know there's a reason. For his death? ("It never makes any sense. We both have to know that there was a reason.")
  • And Kirk is headin' back to The Bridge!

MST3K Connections?  Sadly, not a one, but there was an interesting connection to the history of Star Trek. Mark Lenard, who plays the Romulan Commander, ends up being Sarek, Spock's daddy. That's pretty nifty. How did I find this out? Husband. The fun part of all this, is that he is the Virgil to my Dante, the Gandalf to my Bilbo, the Al to my Sam. . . without him, I wouldn't be having as much fun as I have been throughout this whole journey. Once again, drawing on the idea of a nerd or a geek being a SOCIAL thing. We need to talk and bounce our references off each other. To philosophize or riff. . . else it's just all missing that little something extra special that makes us feel like we belong.

Happy Father's Day!

I just wanted to send out a huge Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. I am incredibly lucky to have an amazing husband who is the best father I could have ever hoped to have for our daughter. My daughter and I honored him today by getting him Vader's Little Princess, How to Speak Wookiee, and a t-shirt reminding everyone that Episode IV comes first! Sadly, my daughter's godfather is not as awesome for, in a very geeky way, pointing out the spoiler alert status of Vader's Little Princess and that my husband had some sort of secret evil plan to undermine the clearly standard operating procedure for children of the 80's exposing their children to Star Wars. Either way, my daughter is one of the luckiest little girls in the world for having such wonderful, geeky men in her life.

Additionally, she has a wonderful Grandpa who she constantly talks about and can't wait to spend some summer time with. I, though, have a tendency to find a tinge of sadness on this day, because my father never got to be a grandfather to my little midgey. He passed away on Father's Day weekend in 2009. Followed the next day by my grandfather. They were absolutely amazing people and I miss them and am saddened that they do not get to enjoy the status of being "fathers" to my little gem.

Me and my dad when I was a wee-one.

Happy Father's Day to all, and to all a good night!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Star Trek: The Original Series - Episode 13: The Conscience of the King

Episode 13 - The Conscience of the King
    • As I ended the last episode with a play title/quote from Shakespeare, so we start with a Shakespearean play!
    • Was Kirk just trying to Riff Macbeth?
    • Woah.... Macbeth is The Executioner!
    • Famine eradication Stardate 2817.6 by Dr. Leighton on Planet Q.
    • Oh wait, he really wanted to just persuade Kirk to trap Kodos! 
    • OH!!! Revenge and vindication for Kodos taking half his face. Come on, Kirk, that's good enough.
    • Slaughtered 50% of population. Burned body. No positive identification. What? No, DNA evidence? It's THE FUTURE!
    • Galactic Cultural Exchange Program.
    • What? No overlapping or aging programs available? Oh future. . .
    • Lounge Theme Song Version.
    • Kirk. . . flirtatious smooth-talker.
    • Spock is baffled by Kirk's confidence about knowing when women are coming aboard the ship. teehee.
    • The men would be devastated to miss your performance and presence. Forget the women.
    • Kirk is very irritated with Spock offering logical responses to the distance off course they are going.
    • Oh McCoy, you and your philosophical metaphors. 
    • Spock does not drink, huffs at McCoy's preference.
    • Wow! There is massive amounts of sexual suggestion in this episode. Oh goodness... where is Yeoman Janice? Oh no!
    • Kodos had his own theories of Eugenics.
    • Hey Lt. Riley! Not going to go crazy on us are you?  Poor guy, being demoted. 
    • More Uhura singing.... Spock save us! 
    • Tarsus IV.
    • Poison and he immediately needs a drink of milk. . . Coincidence? Just a need to quickly to move the plot along!
    • The entire crew is concerned about Lt. Riley. Oh... wait... probably for themselves and poison slinking around in milk.
    • Stop meddling in my private affairs, so sayeth Captain Kirk. 
    • Spock is a mathematician. 2+2=4.
    • Logic is not enough. . . I must feel my way. . . I must be absolutely sure.
    • Phaser on overload becomes a bomb. Pretty cool.
    • The Ship has it's own theater!
    • We always suspected it was her! 
    • As bright as a blade before it is stained with blood (referenced the beginning).
    • Oh theater people... they're so dramatic.

    What I liked about this episode is, once again, the human rights aspect of the episode. I think of so many of the dictators in the world today, or ones that have passed out of this world in the last twenty years, and how they chose to rationalize their behavior. I think the most jarring and needed comparison are some of the warlords in Africa and the kinds of things that are going on. I couldn't help but think of the leaders who lead their people to commit mass genocide in Rwanda based off of a label.

    There are some MST3K connections that are new and exciting!

    Friday, June 14, 2013

    Star Trek: The Original Series - Episode 12: The Menagerie, Part 2

    Episode 12 - The Menagerie, Part 2

    •  OMG This really did become a season finale. . . in scope of waiting to watch Part 2, that is. Shame on me and my subconscious modern need to wait long periods of time between two part episodes!
    • Last Time. . . on Star Trek!
    • WHY SPOCK, WHY?!?!?!
    • Is that eyeshadow on Spock?
    • Well, we already have the death penalty upon us, might as well keep watching.
    • What? No HD in the future? You can really see the restoration, though. 
    • "IT'S A TRAP!"
    • Collections of specimens.
    • It's a Menagerie!!! A Cage!!! Both episode titles... DONE!
    • No human can resist the Orion Slave Girl Vina! 
    • Awe man. . . everyone is against Spock! He didn't even stand a chance. (GUILTY!!)
    • Flagrant emotionalism. . . Spock feels insulted.
    • All's well that ends well. 
    • No Sulu or Janice.... 

    I don't have much to say about this episode, other than the interest I have in the background of its creation and how they used all the stock footage from the failed pilot to help out the intense filming schedule of shows at that time. I love the t-shirt I found, though. I almost would order it if I had expendable income for it. How cool is that?

    But in addition to finding that shirt, I found one for "Mirror, Mirror." Funny thing. . . I knew about the whole "bizarro" world and all that stuff, but I have never seen the episode. I have seen parodies and heard the story (Sealab 2021 anyone?), but then on The Big Bang Theory (Season 3: Episode 1 - "The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation"), where Sheldon comes home from his Magnetic North Pole expedition to test his theories, he shows up with a Bizarro Spock "beard." I made the connection after having seen the bottle of wine for "Mirror, Mirror" and seeing the t-shirt on the website. I feel super special for knowing, because knowing is half the battle! Woots!

    Um... as a digression... the label for the picture I have of Sheldon calls his "beard" a goatee. I don't consider it a goatee. So I asked my husband, who has a beard, what is what he has called? We are not experts on male facial hair. What Sheldon has is not a goatee. A goatee does not include a mustache. We thought it was a Short Boxed Beard, but apparently he needs sideburns. We then thought it was a Van Dyke Beard, but those need a separation between the goatee and the mustache (ala Johnny Depp in 2011 or Christian Bale in 2010). Essentially what we discovered is that he just has a mustache with a goatee, known as a Circle Beard. Oh the things we'll talk about. Funny thing is, we aren't even board. We just really needed to know. 

    Thursday, June 13, 2013

    A Summer School Lull

    My husband commented to me late last night that it's been a while since I updated on my journey. Sure, I've been suffering some major guilt since falling slightly behind my goal, but my guilt was amplified by my frustrations over preparing for summer school. So for all your rapid fans out there (I'm not that deluded) just dying to know what in the world happened and if I am still on my journey, here is a little update with a promise to deliver.

    Social Commitments: I had to attend a family party over the weekend, which is always exhausting in its own way when you have a toddler. It was nice to get out in the sun and see everyone and kind of relax, considering it was the day after school let out.

    I've also had to plan a trip to Florida and start to plan our family trip to Myrtle Beach, so I've been doing a lot of research on what to do with an old woman and a toddler in Florida without being destroyed by mutant
    mosquitoes. Oh goodness and my daughter's birthday party. There's a lot of planning going on. Oh to be social. . . it takes so much effort! j/k

    Film Commitments: I might have mentioned it somewhere before, but I'm not sure. I work with the Milwaukee Film Festival's Children's Film Festival outside of being just a teacher. I started this when I moved back to Wisconsin, after having Isabelle. I knew in my heart that I wanted to still be involved in the film community in some  way, even though I had left my post-doctoral dissertation behind with a loss of hope to move forward as a film professor. So I met with the Children's Film director and she saw potential and passion in me and brought me on board. The first year I was a volunteer and led some Talk Backs. The second year I was part of the screening committee for the films, wrote educational curriculum for one of the films, conducted Q&A's with filmmakers and worked one of the festival locations and the craft table. This year I'm doing something similar, but with a little more experience. So Tuesday was my first screening committee commitment. We spend about four hours watching movies for the festival and discussing the potential of screening them. The reason this was such a distraction from my journey was because I have to drive two hours down to Milwaukee now to be part of this and due to it running from 6-10, I also need to stay at my mother's house. So that was a two-day activity. If you have a kid, you know an overnight trip is never just a wham-bam-thank-you-maam.

    Essentially I saw a pretty cool feature film that has potential to be shown and some really interesting short films. Then fought the neverending construction that goes on in Milwaukee just to get home to the suburbs. So yeah, I didn't disappear, I was just watching some movies and discussing their worth.

    School Commitments: Those who say a teacher's job ends when school ends is so full of it. I was a little behind on my grades, it being my first year and, well, there's a lot to grade in literacy. So I was up early Sunday morning punching in the last of the Poetry Parlor grades and the term and semester effort grades so that the grades could go live Monday morning. Strangely, I was up way too early for a weekend in the summer, but so was my daughter! So that was a doubly hard task to accomplish.

    Then I had to head up to my classroom Monday and try to get some cleaning and organizing done. Wow, I didn't realize how much I have to do, but I'm trying to get back to square one and organize everything I didn't get to organize throughout the year. I'll get there. It'll just take a while.

    And finally, I have summer school. I'm stressing over how to go about all of this, which isn't good, but I'm still stressing. I have decided the young writer's class will spend their time writing, editing and creating their own hardcover story book. The first week will be creating some fun smaller writing activities. The final week will be constructing their book.

    The sixth grade literacy class, though, is a little tougher for me. I have to cram a whole school year into three weeks. I have an idea in mind, but it keeps fizzling, which means it's not solid. So I'm trying to figure out what day one will be and I want to meet the kids before I commit to something. I enjoy creating lessons that are personalized to the kids in my class, but they're wanting lesson plans by Friday with formative assessment pieces for each day! Sigh. . . see the stress coming through already? Yes, yes you do.

    And that brings me up to Thursday. I have to go up to the school today to prep for my summer school and get a lay of everything. I really do need to get these lessons unfolding. I have an idea for day 1 to find where the kids are. I already know that one of the kids is one of the "I don't do anything" kind. So I chose a short story I didn't use at the end of my first year and I'll have the lesson on here soon enough.

    So hopefully starting tonight I'll be getting in 2-3 episodes of Star Trek a night through the weekend, while also getting outside to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Goodness knows my geek-of-a-husband loathes the outdoors and all it has to offer. Somebody's got to take our daughter to the park. We'll see how much I get caught up on. I even have some awesome geek stories to post, but haven't had an opportunity to sit down and write them. Someday!

    Saturday, June 8, 2013

    Warm Bodies (Film Reflection)

    “We smile, because this is how we save the world.”
    ― Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies

    I am a genuine zombie geek. I love all things zombie. I'll admit that I feel a zombie apocalypse is a legit potential in the future. We don't know what kind of crazy stuff people are making and testing and all that. I'm not saying something in my lifetime would happen, but it's one of those "horror" themes that has the potential to be seriously a reality.

    When I was doing research on the character of nuns in European cinema, I watched a lot of exploitation
    films, which included a great deal of zombies. Fulci anyone? I even saw zombies against sharks! I'm not saying I've seen every zombie film ever made, but I've seen a decent amount of them and I am always fascinated by them in a super geek way. My eyes light up and I feel super geeky. So clearly I had to see Warm Bodies.

    But as my life has dictated, going TO to the movies is a rarity. I used to frequent the movies all the time, but having a toddler and limited child care makes it difficult to get out of the house. So I get to watch movies mostly when the come to my local RedBox or, when I just don't trust myself to get to the RedBox and return it, OnDemand. I had been waiting and watching for this one to come to RedBox so that I could finally add to my background knowledge in zombies. I mean, come on. . . it's trending like crazy in our current cultural climate!

    The draw of the film as a romantic comedy was endearing. Plus it offered some new zombie tidbits. One, these zombies get memories from eating the brains of other people. The zombies also become these super creepy skeleton creatures once they've been a zombie for too long. Yet, the zombies seem to somehow communicate and this film offers an option for curing the problem.

    The interesting thing was that this movie is so wonderfully stand alone. It's not like it was referencing zombie films left and right or drawing attention to specific parodies (ala Shawn of the Dead). It creates its own origin story to be referenced or parodied. (As I write this, Julie walks out onto the balcony and my thoughts about the origin story are immediately shattered, because it all goes back to Shakespeare... how ironic!) And that origin story, sadly, though, lies in the heart of the Romeo and Juliet story, brought full circle in the balcony scene. Romeo & Juliet & Zombies. . .

    Luckily, it is not a tragedy and it has some great hilarious scenes. This movie had tons of amazing moments. For example, slow motion large group walking to classic 80's rock is always a winner for me! There is also the initial romancing of R for Julie. The comedy was driven along by Rob Corddry, but it made alot of the story more meaningful, because they represented a hope for the usually hopeless story! Corddry was M (Mercutio) and was extremely sarcastic and had lots of fun quips. The casting is what made his character. I'm not a super huge Corddry fan, but he has his roles that I adore. This is definitely one of them.

    The film was also based on a book by Isaac Marion and I an incredibly intrigued. I want to read the books, but they don't currently fit into my geekology challenge this summer. I have noted them and I am eagerly awaiting being able to pick them up. It is supposedly a trilogy. 

    This was a great addition to the cannon of zombie films, as well as the cannon of Shakespeare inspired stories.  It is an adorably romantic nerd flick and I would recommend it, if not to just add to your own zombie knowledge for when our own zombie apocalypse does hit. Just don't forget. . .

    Friday, June 7, 2013

    Star Trek: The Original Series - Episode 11: The Menagerie, Part 1

    Episode 11 - The Menagerie, Part 1
    • Shirts look more yellow and less puke. Awesome.
    • Something happened to Pike?!?!?! This isn't good!
    • Kirk and Pike met when he was promoted to Fleet Captain. (Future reference, Pike is in the J.J. Abrams new Star Trek movies as being a little bit more than just a meeting.)
    • Spock has served with Pike for 11 years, 4 months, 5 days.
    • Pike Saved kids! He's a hero! (duh.)
    • THE WHEEL CHAIR!!! OMG CLASSIC!!! (South Park/Futurama) 

    • Christopher Pike would be brilliant at ghost hunting (1 beep for yes, 2 beeps for no).
    • It's stuck on No, except for Spock.
    • Oh, wait, no, it is still stuck on No. That previous yes was an anomaly.
    • It's a five year mission? That's kinda crazy. I guess it's that whole "tour of duty kind of thing."
    • Kirk and Commander reviewing if Spock is. . . out of line.
    • Oh Spock. . . no . . .betrayal? What are you up to?
    • Pike's chair can move based on brainwaves and he can beep yes and no, but that's all... you would have thought a bit more technology would have evolved by then. Such as red and green lights instead of multiple beeps.
    • Spock is getting loose with his vulcan neck pinch.
    • Pike sits, lonely, beeping no, no. Wait... or is that yes, yes.
    • Vulcans are incapable of lying. But what about Spock's human side?
    • Talos IV: No crew for any reason can go there and no one knows why!
    •  Logic and Madness walk a thin line, Spock.
    • McCoy cannot be right, because he is not the Logical Spock.
    • OH CRAP!!! Mutiny Spock? Oh geez.... 
    • "Arrest me." You have baffled McCoy in a moment he could have relished. Was that a slight you designed by making sure he was back on board?
    • I'd like to take a moment and say Mr. Scott's haircut is HORRENDOUS!
    • Mendez: "Whatever he's up to, he's planned it well."
    • Spock: "This is 13 years ago." So it has been 2 years since Spock served with Pike and, potentially, 2 years since starting to serve with Kirk.
    • Those are some incredibly detailed tapes (oh, Kirk agrees!).
    • Class M - Oxygen Atmosphere
    • (Now we're into The Cage footage.)
    • They are sending a transmission of the episode! That... is... awesome!
    • To be continued NEXT WEEK!!! (oh thank goodness classic TV is reliable and does what it promises. Additionally, this was NOT a season finale... I don't have to wait all summer to find out what Spock is up to. I think that would have incited the loss of fans back then. They didn't put up with your crazy games.)
    • Wait. . . where's Sulu?

    I am very intrigued with this episode. It has some great history to it with tons of interesting tidbits. Everything from the history behind the pilot episode, to how Roddenberry came up with the idea for the creation of this episode, to the oft-parodied elements. Even the pieces of information about Vulcan's and Spock's past are notable fodder. Even these formal uniforms are looking really well done and the show is really starting to round out into a consistent groove. I am really quite excited to watch Part II.

    As for MST3K connections, there are the same The Cage references, but some new ones with new information.

    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Star Trek: The Original Series - Episode 10: The Corbomite Maneuver

    Episode 10 - The Corbomite Maneuver 

    Just to jog your memory about this episode. . .
    • Spinning Rubik's Cube of Color (We've never been out this far before).
    • Lt. Bailey tries Spock's Patience
    • Oooo... Captain Kirk working out. Really amping up the sex-appeal.
    • Spock recommends Lt. Bailey have his adrenaline gland removed, because it is hindering his work performance.
    • Woah! First whole-ship rockin'! First Phaser Fire.
    • OMG those ear things are bothering me! 
    • Constantly questioning Spock gives Kirk emotional security. (A personal connection.)
    • So when McCoy is bored, he comes and hangs out on the Bridge? 
    • OH! Lt. Bailey was promoted too quickly. Wants to be too much like a young Kirk. 
    • Success rate 94%. . . Let's try for 100%.
    • Wait... wait... I thought pounds didn't matter.
    • Hey, hey, the gang's all here! I think this might be a first for everyone being together in an episode.
    • McCoy is just as smug as Kirk about things. Then again, so is Spock... Maybe Smugness is par for the Bridge. . . but not the women on the Bridge.
    • Screen can zoom out or in on objects. That is kind of cool.
    • United Earth Ship - Enterprise
    •  Commander Balok of the Fesarius. A flagship of the "First Federation".
    • OH! It was a Marker Bouy.
    • Huh. . . what do you do when you encounter others who do not fall under the FFF? If they are beyond the understanding of what their doing.
    • Shirts are looking a little more yellow, but still kind of a puke-yellow.
    • Chess vs. Poker
    • McCoy and Kirk love Poker. ha!
    • Women. . . serving coffee when you don't realize you need it.
    • Omg. . . watching people try to shake themselves is HILARIOUS!!! Effective, but McCoy wins the prize for Best Shake. (Even though, Spock looked a little masturbatory at one point.)
    • THE DUMMY looking Alien REALLY IS A DUMMY!  
    • TRANYA!!! 
    • It was a test? A test for Friendship? huh. I don't think it works like that.
    • But at least they found a place for Bailey.

    Just a cool fact that learned. The little alien guy is Ron Howard's brother, Clint Howard, who was only 7 at Futurama, in the episode that draws directly on Star Trek, "Where No Fan Has Gone Before." In Venture Bros., episode "Assisted Suicide," Henchman No. 21 pours a drink for himself and Dr. Mrs the Monarch, calling it tranya. She responds with "I hope you relish it as much as I" before mentioning how creeped out she was by Ron Howard's little brother. Awesome!
    the time. Kind of a cool bit of info. Also, this episode has ties to both Futurama and Venture Bros. The dummy alien is in an end still for

    Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    Geeking on a Field Trip

    I had been volunteered by my coworkers to be one of the sixth grade representatives for the end of year Honors Level All-Stars field trip to the YMCA. I can't complain really, considering I get to go on my first field trip as an official teacher AND leave the school for the afternoon. When I woke up that morning, I decided to wear my Red Star Trek T-shirt.

    First of all, I thought it would be good to wear red on the field trip. Why? Because our school colors are red, white, and black and I didn't really want to wear my school shirt (which is not as cool as a red Star Trek shirt). Plus, I was like "ooo... I'm leaving the primary vessel for new territory to explore and report back!" Since it was also my first year as a teacher, I thought the status of "red shirt" would be kind of funny, as well.

    Then Ray decided to tell me that the red shirt becomes an honorary color and yellow gets bumped down later on in the series/films. So technically, by wearing red I was distinguishing myself as one of the superior officers on the trip! Yeah, that was an awesome thing to hear.

    One of my students then asked me about the red shirt and we swapped geek stories about red shirts and Star Trek, because my student ended up being a trekkie.The sad thing was, though, I was in the pool area and it was a million degrees and that shirt was definitely not for such extremely hot temperatures. I thought I was going to go back to school with sweat stains showing up everywhere! Luckily I survived, unlike other Red Shirts. Hurray! The geek lives to geek another day!

    Star Trek: The Original Series - Episode 9: Dagger of the Mind

    Episode 9 - Dagger of the Mind
    • Tantalus Penal Colony
    • Red shirts are such N00Bs. You need the Captain to help transfer cargo? Strike 1!
    • Didn't check the cargo and a crazy guy climbed out? Strike 2!
    • What kind of research are you doing on this Tantalus Penal Colony?
    • They're not cage colonies. . . they're resort colonies. 
    • Research = Violent Offender
    • One red shirt screws up. . . all red shirts will suffer!
    • "Where there is no emotion, there is no motive for violence."
    • Why isn't the Bridge more secure? Every violent schmuck of an offender gets on the Bridge.
    • Spock is creeping over with a neck-pinch. I saw him!
    • NO KIRK!!! NEVER GLANCE AT THE GUY OVER THE SHOULDER!! That's a rookie mistake.
    • These ID tapes are brilliant! So much helpful information.
    • Experimental colony for the mentally unstable. 
    • For goodness sake, woman, I remember! Let's keep this professional. The Christmas Party was a long time ago.
    • Surprise elevator! Forcing uncomfortable moments to become more uncomfortable.
    • Women don't need titles. We'll stroke your male egos with those titles, since anything else would be inappropriate.
    • So they cannot remember things and if they do, they will experience the most severe pain ever! It seems to be more of a hypnosis strategy that some new research.
    • Ancient Vulcan technique! YES! THERE IT IS!
    • Requires I make pressure changes to your nerves and change blood flow? Woah, that's crazy! 
    • It's NOT hypnosis, btw. . . this Vulcan Mind Meld!
    • Minds sharing the same thoughts, but this isn't how I remember seeing the Mind Meld in later versions. 
    • Wow. . . chick doctors are defensive for all the wrong reasons.
    • Reveals that he erases memories and puts his own thoughts there.
    • "Yes Captain, I know my profession."
    • No reputable organization would have women wear such incredibly short skirts and hope to have a positive work environment.
    • Christmas Parties, even in the future. Good to know!
    • 2 Phaser Forms. Gun and Remote Control.
    • He died alone, with only silence. No one was there to help him. He died of loneliness.
    • Moody Kirk. Contemplative Kirk.
    There is only one person to make an MST3K connection and not only were his parts minor in the episode, but the roles he played in the two films used on MST3K are minor as well. A connection nonetheless.

    Lou Elias (Inmate Guard) was in Episode 319: War of the Colossal Beast as a soldier. He was also in Episode 509: The Girl in Lover's Lane.

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    Star Trek: The Original Series - Episode 8: Miri

    Episode 8 - Miri
    • The planet is referred to as a Replica of Earth.
    • Approximately 1960
    • Janice on the landing party? 
    • Red shirt wandered off. 
    • ZOMBIES!!! (then again, we said zombies when the doors opened and sure enough, zombies. Oh how common zombies are. . .)
    • Oh wait. . . not zombies? Intelligent zombies? Ok. We'll have to find out. Assuming they're not zombies.
    • Man, all the red shirts wandered off. Huh. They all came running, though. That's cool.
    • Grown Ups don't help? Bummer. (Grups.)
    • Kirk, she's only a child! Save your flava for Yeoman Janice.
    • More Vulcan talk about green blood being better than red blood. Blah, blah, blah.
    • Glandular. . . post-pubescent? Like puberty wasn't hard enough. Thanks disease.
    • What a motley crew of kids!
    • I swear it was set to phaser!
    • Death by "nananaanaanaaa."
    • It's like a scene out of Peter Pan. Miri is tinker bell and goes and convinces the Lost Boys that Wendy is a bird and should be killed. Tink likes Peter (Kirk) and she thinks Wendy (Janice) and Peter love each other. Now the Lost Boys are going to kill the Wendy-bird. 
    • We can't do anything without computers! I only trust them.
    • Teachers only say "study, study, study." 
    • Another shirt torn up!
    • "I never get involved with older women."

    A conversation about Yeoman Janice's hair and how long we thought it took for Janice Lee Whitney to have her hair done.  I immediately said it was a wig. It looked too perfect not to be. Sure enough, we learned it was a Max Factor wig. I also learned about the trouble she suffered on the show with the accusations of sexual assault she filed against some higher ups on the show. This was horrific to learn. Sadly, despite what executives say, they clearly saw Whitney as an issue or liability and found a "legitimate" way to take her out of the show. First, they wanted Kirk to have more romances with more women. He's not a one-woman kinda captain. Next, they already had two blondes and then Nichelle, so they opted to get rid of one of the blondes. Whitney was not the blonde engaged to the boss, so she had to be the one to go. Thanks to good ole McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Whitney found her way back into the loving arms of Star Trek and it's fans. At least things turned around for her and her hair.

    And while I looked for that information, I stumbled upon an article called "10 Things You Probably Don't Know About Star Trek." And sure enough, I probably didn't know them. The #1 thing was that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a fan of the progressive views of the show. According to this article, he told Nichelle Nichols, “Don’t you understand? When you are there they see you as you should be seen, as an equal.” That is AMAZING! It further reminds me of something my boss said to me during my first-year-review and that was that she LOVES that I expose my kids to things like MST3K, Star Trek, and Bradbury, because tapping into a part of our generation. . . a part of our youth. . . that is potentially lost on these kids. They aren't being exposed to these things. Imagine teaching equality using Star Trek and being able to reference this kind of history! What an intriguing idea for my future unit on Human Rights. Human Rights taught through Star Trek! I'm spinning gold here! Wow! The progressive status of Star Trek has been established in the cultural history of America. (For more information, here is an interesting article that can lead you to even more information and so forth and so on.)

    Who cares if it's Photoshopped. . . it was meant to be!

    Monday, June 3, 2013

    Star Trek: The Original Series - Episode 7: What Are Little Girls Made Of?

    Episode 7 - What Are Little Girls Made Of?
    • Exo III - icy planet where it is really cold (Star Trek's Hoth).
    • Orion Ruins
    • Spock doesn't have an answer. . . that can't be good.
    • Awe, cute couple at the back on the Bridge confirming how it is a joyous moment for Christine and Dr. Korby. Never saw them before on the Bridge or the crew or whatever, but hey. . . the viewer needs confirmation.
    • Who transports down to an ice planet without a jacket, hats, or gloves?
    • Dramatic Rock Lighting!
    • RED SHIRT!!! Dead. And not the one you think.
    • RED SHIRT!!! Dead! Now the one you think.
    • Awesome! Shirtless hot chick with a breathy voice.
    • Shirts look more yellow. Woots!
    • WOAH! ROBOTS AND ALIENS... oh wait... no androids!
    • Ruk might injure you? woah.
    • Learn before you judge. . .don't judge the work that is immoral and bad until I've shown you my insane research.
    • OH! So Andrea is an android hotty. . . 
    • You make androids out of people? 
    • DIZZY!!! DIZZY!!!
    • You can't replace me!!! That's MY ship!!!!
    • "I'm sick of your half-breed interference." - Um. . . absolutely brilliant Kirk. Absolutely brilliant!
    • He's not just a direct replica. . . he's a directly douchey replica. 
    • All the benefits of androids, without the humanity. No illness. No hate. But no love or compassion.
    • Phallic stalactites maybe not the most appropriate choice.
    • Is that a cardboard door?
    • Dr. Korby was never here. . . because I destroyed him and all his creations, so we don't have to deal with that anymore. 

    So this episode was written by Robert Bloch. Why do I care? Because I love Alfred Hitchcock. I am also from Wisconsin and he is a Milwaukee guy, having joined the Milwaukee Fictioneers. The school he taught at is the Lincoln Center for the Arts middle school now, but it was previously Lincoln High School. How awesome is that? Well, maybe only awesome for me as a teacher, Milwaukee art lover, and Wisconsinite.  In case you don't know the Lincoln High School (closed in 1978), Oprah Winfrey went there before going to Nicolet High School.

    And where does this Hitchcock reference come in, you might ask? Well, he wrote the original Psycho story that Hitchcock later turned into his classic film. Bloch was a massive H.P. Lovecraft fan and has also been acknowledged by Stephen King as a master of horror. What I'm starting to come to realize is that there is a connection between horror writers and Science Fiction. A future note for myself is to investigate Science Fiction horror and the connections that are within them (ex. Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Hitchcock Presents, Amazing Stories) and then there are video games (ex. Resident Evil, Dead Space).  So yeah, the original writer of Psycho is the author of this pretty nifty episode. He is also the one and only MST3K connection (wrote the screenplay for the film in Episode 905: The Deadly Bees). From Bloch's biography, it looks like we'll see him again in TOS. Looking forward to it.

    A Toast: Live Long and Prosper (Star Trek Wines)

    I couldn't help but get caught up in the gimmick of the Star Trek wines being released by Vinasa Winery (California). I'm only a mediocre wine drinker. I have an occasional glass here and there. I am more a sweet wine drinker and usually a white wine rather than a red. Yet, something about my new adventure made me want to order these bottles and enjoy at least one while watching Star Trek. I have already embraced that fact that in either weeks from now I will still be watching Star Trek in some form or another. Maybe, just maybe, I'll cook a meal that will match the wine and enjoy them both while watching one of the Star Trek feature films! We'll see. Either way, check it out. It's kinda cool.

    While I think it's awesome that these wines are from Star Trek: The Original Series, I find it interesting that they weren't more geared towards The Next Generation. I found this article online about Picard and his love of wine. He even had his own private reserve, "Chateau Picard, 2267." Besides, Picard was a bit more classy than Kirk. It might have been a bit more interesting. Just a thought and all that. Anyways. . .this article focuses on Star Trek: Nemesis and the amount of wine/champagne that is being drunk by the actors. I just thought it was neat.

    Sunday, June 2, 2013

    Star Trek: The Original Series - Episode 6: Mudd's Girls

    Episode 6 - Mudd's Women
    •  And now we're back to the puke-colored shirts.
    • Woah! Uhura is back!. . . where's Janice?
    • Irish Cowboy? Da' hell? With a Disco-Ball in his ear? Well, at least we know Disco-is Back in the future!
    • McCoy has transporter issues? I think I knew that.
    • Women? On the ship? In fancy dresses? This is. . . strange and unusual.
    • The soft filters are used to make them more... uh... appealing. Essentially, so we understand why the men are hypnotized, because else we'd be confused. 
    • Spock looks baffled by McCoy and Mr. Scott thinking women are attractive.
    • Close-ups of hip-wiggling not necessary!
    • Three unusual woman who have magnetic powers? 
    • People as Cargo. . .
    • Ship's Hearings. Bridge Crew is also the court! Awesome!
    • Lie-Detector? Pretty cool!
    • Poor McCoy. . . always subject to the wiles of hot women.
    • Rigel XII - Replacement Lithium Crystals (Kirk does in fact say Lithium, not Dilithium).
    • A Man has to be a Paragon of Virtue. 
    • Hot chicks turn ugly. . .unless you take this "drug."
    • "Captains are married to their ships." Like a man to his car/computer/game counsel/etc.?
    • No time to hand over Lithium Crystals, only circle potential blonde woman I've "traded for."
    • Hey, no females cook for me. . . Why is this guy so bitter about a woman being nice to him?
    • "I didn't touch her!" What in the world?!?!?
    • Wow. . . woman can't be anything other than "rounder," "more feminine" babes? Uhura was on here as a natural counterpart? Actually, she never did anything after the women came on. My befuddlement is looming large
    • What a sexist episode!
    • You want a selfish, vain woman.
    • Wait. . . the changing was all in her heart? Ok. . . that was kind of lame. Find the beauty in my heart to see it on the outside? Sounds like a meme I saw on Facebook.
    • SPOCK: "A most annoying emotional episode."
    • SPOCK to MCCOY: "The fact that my internal arrangement differs from yours, Doctor, pleases me to no end." BURN. 

    Ray decided to take this opportunity to educate me on the Lithium Crystals, because he said they were Dilithium and I clearly pointed out to him that throughout the episode, they are called Lithium Crystals. Apparently Lithium was original thought to be what they wanted to use for Warp Technology. Then it was realized that Lithium was a REAL ELEMENT with REAL PROPERTIES! So they wanted to create something that was fictional so that they could create story lines around it. They also wanted something stronger, so they created (discovered) Dilithium for use on their ships. The Lithium Crystals were actually supposed to be super special and a more concentrated form of Lithium.

    Happy Birthday, Zachary Quinto!

    Happy Birthday, Zachary Quinto!

    I have to do a shout-out to Quinto. I've been watching him since her broke out into the mainstream with his role as Sylar on Heroes. Sure he has lots of small spots on other shows and, maybe, if you want to argue it, 24 was a big deal for him, but Heroes really made him a household name.  Now he's not only a household name, he's a water-cooler name. "Hey, did you see Quinto in. . . ." When I heard he was being cast as Spock in the new Star Treks, I thought they made an amazing casting job and Quinto has not be a let down in any way, shape, or form.

    After all engines were a go for awesomeness, I ended up enjoying his incredibly twisted performances on American Horror Story. I'm shocked I made it through both seasons and survived. That is an intense series, but despite his strong physical presence, he was able to transform into his role without me thinking "awe man, Spock is a serial killer!"

    Bottom line, Quinto is amazing and I look forward to seeing his career develop. So today is definitely a day to celebrate it, geek style. From Comic Books, to Star Trek, to Horror Film Geeks, Quinto is a Geek powerhouse of an actor.

    And just for funsies, the awesome The Audio Spock Challenge commercial.

    Saturday, June 1, 2013

    Star Trek: The Original Series - Episode 5: The Enemy Within

    Episode 5 - The Enemy Within
    • Written by Richard Matheson
    • Sulu: Dog-in-Costume Handler
    • EVIL CAPTAIN KIRK!!! (A strange alter-ego? Captain Hyde!)
    • A savage, ferocious opposite. 
    • Note to self: Ok... must learn about the green shirt. I get that green is captain related, but why does he fluctuate between green and yellow. More research is needed.
    • Extra Eyeliner for Evil!
    • If you look anything less than perfect in the eyes of your crew, they lose faith in you. 
    • No...... I'M CAPTAIN KIRK! 
    • Vulcan Neck-Pinch #2!
    • Rapidly losing the power of decision? Spock, logically, strives to observe this anomaly. Makes me think of the recent Hannibal episode where Lecter chooses to hide from Will that he has a extremely advanced case of Encephalitis, just so that he can study it and have the notoriety of publishing case notes about it (Episode 10, "Buffet Froid"). Lecter and Spock.... could a friendship be formed?
    • Logic verses Knowledge (Spock vs. McCoy)
    • Sulu NEEDS COFFEE!!! -41 and they're needing only coffee? 
    • OH NO SULU!!!!!! He doesn't have a week Mr. Scott!!!
    • PHASER TO THE RESCUE!!! You heat that rock. You heat is real good. That is really a seriously awesome tool.
    • Sulu keeps spirits high in a crisis. Good man!
    • Kirk: "I can't go on without you!"  (The Sensitive Kirk.)
    • There is a thoughtless brutal animal in all of us. It's called "being human." Without the negative side you couldn't be the captain. You need the black and white.
    • Great philosophical conversation between McCoy and Kirk about the essence of being human.
    • Space Federeation PETA's gonna pissed with your treatment of that.... dog-like-creature.
    • Your intelligence is controlling your fear. 
    • MCCOY: Suppose it wasn't shock, Jim. Suppose death was caused by transporter malfunction. Then you'd die. They'd die, anyway. Jim, you can't risk your life on a theory!
    • SPOCK: Being split in two halves is no theory with me, Doctor. I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half, submerged, constantly at war with each other. Personal experience, Doctor. I survive it because my intelligence wins out over both, makes them live together. Your intelligence would enable you to survive as well. 

    • Bones? Is this a first? 
    • Which one is the real Kirk? (omg!!! classic reference!!! I am freaking out!)
    • You know who I am! (Yes, I wear less eyeliner, because I'm not evil!)
    • Can half a man live? (see further down for discussion about whether half a woman can live.)
    • I've seen a part of myself that no man should ever see.
    • Soft filter on Yeoman Janice. She's so ethereal and angelic. 

    The first thing I latched onto with this episode was that it was written by Richard Matheson. I had a bit of a squealing girl moment, because he wrote I am, Legend, which I had read and consider one of the foundational apocalyptic monster novels. An additional attachment to Matheson comes from another one of my geek-loves. . . Stephen King. He tauts Matheson has a master of horror. My one problem with Matheson, or when I was reading I am, Legend, was that it was very masculine. I'm very sensitive to writing styles and Matheson is very masculine, to a point where I almost felt incapable of continuing on with the story. While I land more in a masculine mindset to begin with, sometimes the author's voice is so strong that it is difficult to fully participate in the story as a female reader. While I love the story and the world that is created, I struggle slightly with the delivery of the story.

    So I was eager to see this episode due to the fact that I love Matheson's stories and the delivery would not be as prominent an issue as it was in I am, Legend. And I was not let down. This was an amazing episode. It was also the first time I was really sucked into an episode, because it felt like, finally, a real solid episode. The others were still finding their groove or hadn't found a direction yet. Just further proof that networks needs to give shows at least 8-10 episodes before canceling them. Sometimes a show has to find it's footing before it really sucks in viewers. If I had been watching this on television for the first time, I might have tuned out due to pure inconsistency and lack of connection to me as a viewer during the first few episodes. They're cool to me now, because I'm investing outside knowledge to them and I have an infinite desire to understand Star Trek. 

    The other thing I thought was interesting about this episode is that it is the first one where Spock and McCoy are REALLY distinguished as having two different philosophical/worldview mindsets. I've seen things about their epic mind battles and how, clearly, McCoy is the mental romantic. I love it! I have a feeling that, like Kirk, I appreciate Spock's logical mind, but I'll gravitate more towards McCoy for his humanity. That's if I'm remember things correctly. Thank goodness Spock is half-human.

    Finally, Kirk's line about "can half a man live?" made me think of my Master's Dissertation on nuns in film. The title is "Half a Woman." This episode, from a philosophical standpoint, addresses the classical Greek idea that the human soul is a two-part entity. There is the rational side of the soul and the animalistic side. The rational side can clearly understand reason, which is why Kirk is so torn in the scene where Spock and McCoy are arguing their two sides. He sees the reason in both of their arguments and cannot act on it. The Animalistic Kirk is driven by his passions and desires. He attacks Yeoman Janice and, in his final crazy moment, is declaring that it is his ship!  Two things he has desires and passions for (see Episode 4 and his need for a romantic beach walk). Neither can exist without the other, because in each other they find balance. Kirk finds the will to act on his reasons, only with the desire and passion that drives him.

    So in my dissertation I addressed the idea that a woman is not considered whole is she does not have children, so a nun is always considered half a woman. In reality, maybe it was more about a woman, like a man, cannot only exist with reason and rationale. There needs to be passion. When a nun takes her vows, she removes desire and pleasure from her life, thus cutting off the animalistic part of her soul and only prescribing to the reasoning part of her soul. As we saw with Kirk,  he cannot make decisions. Within the Catholic church, the nuns were ruled by the male patriarchs. Decisions were already made. In films that use nuns, it is usually a struggle to unit the two parts of the soul and find the balance of being a women, in terms of society and a devotee to God.

    Woah... that was deep. I think it's time to sign off for now, because that took me to a much deeper place than I intended to go. But maybe that's what my college philosophy teacher was talking about. He was a Trekkie through and through and I just didn't understand it till now. What a shame that it took me this long to make those connections.

    In Patrick Stewart News. . .

    Two articles jumped out at me this week that involved Patrick Stewart. I'd just like to start this by saying that I LOVE Patrick Stewart. I am a Patrick Stewart fangirl without even having watched all of Star Trek: TNG. I think he is just. . . oh myyy.

    The first article I saw, which garnered a strange amount of international attention, was Stewart's first pizza slice. I mean, hell, who doesn't eat whole pizzas with silverwear? Granted, I actually do, with large slices of pizza, sometimes prefer to cut it up into smaller bites. Yet, sometimes. . . just sometimes. . . you gotta fold it! Kudos Stewart!

    The second article was in response to a question he was asked while at Comicpalooza. It seems that right now is when the convention circuit is happening (lots of tweets and things about conventions). Anyways! Stewart was asked, “Besides acting, what are you most proud of that you have done in you life — that you are willing to share with us?" Stewart went on to explain about his history of abuse in his home and how it led him to become involved in Refuge and Combat Stress. When it was over, he saw the woman who asked the question was in tears and hugged her to comfort her. The woman had already heard Stewart speak about his experience in 2009 at an Amnesty International sponsored conference and it helped her change her life. (Be warned, it will make you cry... or choke back tears... I couldn't help it... it was... so special...)

    This story just further enforces the label of Stewart as "The Most Amazing Man to Ever Live!" Read more about it and watch the videos in the articles. I just don't have the skillz to post it properly here without borderline plagiarizing it. And as my students have been informed, if you plagiarize, a Volturi-type group of cloaked school district people will surround you and you will cry.

    At the end of the article is an incredibly interesting commentary about the Sci-Fi genre and how it functions as a form of escapism for people in unpleasant situations. While my situation is not comparable to Stewart or the woman, it is its own unpleasant situation and while I don't find myself so much escaping as it is finally rising out of the ashes of my world, I can see why, now, I am embarking on this voyage into geekology.