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Homeward, TNG 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, March 15th, 2008

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Paul Sorvino is Worf’s adopted brother! Yes! Why not?! And as the biological son of Theodore Bikel is a leftist, causist, Workman’s Circle-esque Russian Zionist Jew! Okay, the Zionist Jew is my interpretation, but if I’m wrong I’ll eat a plate of live gagh.

Nikolai (Sorvino) is stationed on a pre-First Contact planet “observing.” Doesn’t this always go wrong? Anyway, storms are coming in and the population is about to get wiped out. Stern Captain Picard dictates that the Prime Directive means that they are SOL and life is rough and everyone must die. Eff that says Sorvino and he manages to beam a village onto the holodeck. One particular villager he beamed extra hard and she is now with child. Ruh roh.

A wacky plan is enacted that involves plopping these survivors down on a nearby, kinda-similar planet and hoping they don’t notice. One does, of course, and he flips out. Dr. Crusher and Picard, you can tell, would have rather let everyone die, but it looks like Worf, LaForge and even Data think this is a good idea.

We end with Sorvino still pretending to be one of these villagers on this planet, saying goodbye forever to his life in the 24th century.

The Alternate, DS9 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, March 15th, 2008

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I wish I coulda liked this more. I like learning about Odo’s backstory – particularly his days as a John Merrick-esque sideshow freak. Meeting his “father” (further making Odo the obvious heir apparant to Data, unlike Dax as you’d first think) is fun, but the CSI chase that retards this episode is, well, retarded. By the time we learn that “gas” is making Odo turn into a raging sleepwalker, I was just hoping this episode would end. Odo, you really can’t catch a break, can you?

Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (2008), Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, March 10th, 2008

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I can’t lie to you – this is a very funny movie. With the best grape soda joke I’ve ever seen. Read my full, advanced review of Harold and Kumar 2 at UGO.com.

Tous Les Matins Du Monde (1991), Alain Corneau, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, March 10th, 2008

God bless the French. This film, a very quiet, poised and specific tale of musical apprenticeship, was a massive hit in France. The obscure “early music” soundtrack was #1 on the French charts, topping out the then still-relevant Michael Jackson.

The story is simple; an emotionally wounded “viol” player with monklike devotion appears to live just for his art. Really it is because it is through music that he communes with his dead wife. What’s so wonderful is that Tous les Matins du Monde only hints at the Ghost Whisperer-type crap that you could see the American remake becoming. Furthermore, when the young stud student comes you think you see the fleshy, soap opera love triangle coming down broadway. And while there is romance, it doesn’t quite go where you expect.

The bulk of the shots in this film look like oil paintings of the period. The music is terrific. It is a remarkable piece of work. I like it more reflecting on it a day later, too.

The Pegasus, TNG 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, March 10th, 2008

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Riker’s Captain Pike is aboard and it brings up a difficult past mission. Secrets from Picard? And a yell-y Admiral? What really happened aboard the Pegasus.

Far be it from me to sound hawkish against the treaties with the Romulans, but Picard is real quick to use the phased cloaking device when it serves him, but then wants to destroy it right after. Tut tut, Jean-Luc!

Rivals, DS9 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, March 10th, 2008

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Hard to defend an episode that has Dr. Bashir in a skin tight silver racquetball outfit.

I like guest stars, but I can’t buy Chris Sarandon as the shady El-Aurian. He just…he doesn’t fit in. This whole episode is kinda stupid – and slightly ripped off from Douglas Adams and the Infinite Improbability Drive.

Parallels, TNG 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, March 10th, 2008

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Time for a heavy freak-out. Worf is sent around like a pinball between different, parallel universes. At first the changes are slight (a picture on a different wall – are we gaslighting Klingons?) but then they get nuts: Wesley still on the ship, Troi & Worf are married, Picard died at The Battle of Wolf 359. It is fun shit.

The ending wraps up in a phony-baloney way, but what can you do? With hundreds of thousands of Enterprises in one place, how is it that contact is made through all that com traffic? Although – when I saw the one Enterprise from the Universe totally overrun by the Borg, I admit that I got a major chill down my spine. (Although, just because the Borg are 98% of the way to destroying the Federation, why would Riker have a unibomber beard?)

Banana Soup

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Sunday, March 9th, 2008

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I’m not the only one blogging in this house. You can check out Ann’s interpretation of events over at Banana Soup, by going to banana2goober.blogspot.com.

The Diggs: ctrl-alt-del

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Saturday, March 8th, 2008

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The new album by The Diggs is out (and streamable for free at thediggs.com) and it is by far their finest achievement. There are catchy, peppy, punky tunes and there are soaring, emotional, dense, “Death Cab For Cutie”-esque forays into the sublime. Also, much like The Police, there are wry lyrical references to earlier songs for longtime fans. There is also the sparing use of glockenspiels here and there. Who knew glockenspiels were sexy instruments? And speaking of sexy, did you know the bass player was voted hottie of the week?

The Foreigner (1978), Amos Poe, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, March 8th, 2008

I can’t really say this is a good movie, per se, but if you are at all interested in the punk movement or New York underground cinema you could do a lot worse with your 90 minutes that to sit through this. Some of the locations are entertaining, to say the least. Definitely a link in the chain from the Warhol/Morrissey schtick to Jim Jarmusch (with some theft from Alphaville to be sure.)

Sanctuary, DS9 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, March 8th, 2008

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Now we’re back in business. A refugee race flies in through the wormhole and tries to defect to — uh oh — Bajor! If anyone should know what it is like to be on the run from oppression it is Bajor. But Bajor has enough trouble right now, it doesn’t need a boatload of immigrants. But, allegedly, these immigrants know how to farm? Maybe they should settle there. Meanwhile, DS9 becomes Ellis Island in Space and young Nog gets into all sorts of mishigoss.

Solid stuff.

Second Sight, DS9 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, March 8th, 2008

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I keep waiting for the day I am going really like Sisko. It hasn’t happened yet.

Let me take some of that back – the character of Sisko is fine. The problem is Avery Brooks. He is likeable, but he is a HORRIBLE actor. I know he will get better, but now, in the first half of Season Two, he is making me cringe. The other characters: Odo, Quark, Kira, Bashir & O’Brien are settled in. But Sisko (and Dax) are still plain awful.

Anyway, this is a Sisko-based episode, so it is going to be problematic. It is also stupid as hell. And ends in a very off-putting way. (Suicide with applause?) And why is it that if Avery Brooks is to have a relationship with an alien, she has to be an African-American playing an alien? Isn’t that reverse-reverse racism or something?

Exit Ghost, Philip Roth

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Nathan Zuckerman, star of nine (or ten, depending) of Philip Roth’s novels, is out of hibernation. He’s come down to New York the week of the Bush/Kerry election to get some cartilidge inserted into his malfunctioning penis. While here he gets harassed by his past, tries to harass others into his future and spends most of his time either baffled picking the world apart or putting it together in his head. As is the lot in life for Nathan (and all real writers, it is posited) he spends more of his time creating slightly more interesting versions of reality in his head than what is actually going on around him. Now that his head is getting clumsy and forgetful, everything that means anything to Zuckerman is just about to fall apart.

This is, we’re told, the last Zuckerman novel and that’s fine. There’s no place left for him to go except the grave and Roth has already done the death trip twice: once as an observer with Patrimony and once as a participant with Everyman.

One of the many constant themes in the Zuckerman books (and the one, I think, that Roth most likes to tease us with) is the thin line between an author’s biography and the characters he creates. Basic knowledge of Roth’s life offer up many parallels with the life of Zuckerman, and yet Zuckerman’s central focus in Exit Ghost is that a writer can and should create things purely out of imagination. And those who go searching for real life parallels are lower than whale shit. He argues this in the face of today’s memoirist-tide of young writers, personified by an obnoxious guy named Kliman (not Kil-man) who wants to “revive” and also destroy (with a scandalous rumor) Zuckerman’s idol (and star of the earlier book The Ghost Writer) E. I. Lonoff (who may or may not be based on Bernard Malamud, if you wanna go that route.)

There are wheels within wheels to the point that I figured that Roth doth protest too much and, yes, this must all just be true. Which annoyed me, because Zuckerman boldly announces that he is completely apathetic to George W. Bush. Until I found this:

Inheritance, TNG 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

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I’m beginning to see why there was never an 8th season of TNG. It’s time to wrap things up. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love these characters…it’s just the stories are starting to repeat themselves. We already met Data’s “father,” now we meet his “mother” – the woman at Dr. Noonien Soong’s side during his creation and who insisted on little changes here and there.

The Philip K. Dick twist at the end isn’t too hard to predict, but the thing that bugged me was this: all of Starfleet is scratching their heads over what makes Data tick. They can’t talk to Dr. Soong – he was in hiding and now he is dead. Why didn’t this woman stand up before with her expertise? It’s not like she’s keeping the news secret once she gets some screentime.

There’s another little “gotcha” in logic that wikipedia points out. Here goes: the hologram program Dr. Soong inserts for Data in Juliana’s head makes reference to “she left me.” But if she left him, when did he get a chance to insert the program in her head? Maybe it was a slow departure and he did it one night as she slept? Or was he so prescient (he was a genius, after all) that he wrote this all before she was switched on? Or is it – just a gaffe?

Force of Nature, TNG 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

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Many of my fellow nerds on the Star Trek message boards hate this episode, but I kinda dig it. A certain region of space only has a thin corridor that is safe for warp travel. Repeated use of a warp field is creating a devestating rift in subspace. It takes an eco-terrorist to get the Federation to listen. After a whole bunch of shenanigans, warp travel is outlawed in this corridor (essentially isolating the planet of Hekaran II) and all Federation ships must keep their speed down to Warp 5 *anywhere* they go, unless there is an emergency.

That’s some heavy shit, man, and LaForge and Picard are kinda blindsided by this. Parallels to today, especially when the Hekaran gives an Al Gore-esque slideshow, aren’t that hard to interpret.

Necessary Evil, DS9 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

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Odo takes a page from Law & Order and hunts down clues. A stoles list of Bajorans who collaboratorated with the Cardassians during the occupation in the present, and a murder (plus Odo-as-cop creation story) in the past. It is in the past where we see how Odo and Kira meet.

Turns out Kira first came to DS9 (excuse me, Terok Nor) to pull a hit on one of these Bajoran collaborators. Years later, what must Odo do with this info?

Now is as good a time as any to really tip the hat to Nana Visitor as an actor. Let’s face it, Star Trek isn’t really known for its acting. And some of the acting on DS9 (Avery Brooks and Terry Farrell especially) is really awful. But Visitor, even with that dopey thing on her nose, manages to give very real, unexpected and even subtle line readings. It is really quite an accomplishment.

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