February 13, 2008

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Captain Picard, with hair! Posted by Lorraine (L.L.) Bartlett Once upon a time, I wanted to be a teacher--a history teacher. One year for Christmas, my parents gave my brothers and me a couple of "history" books. I doubt either of my brothers ever looked at them, but I devoured them. I read them over and over again. I think I still have them...somewhere. I can picture the covers. (One beige, one green.) I read about the Egyptians and King Tut. I read about all kinds of wonderful things (like the cotton gin). I remember being sick (and puking strawberry J-ello) and flipping through the pages of the beige book for hours on end and deciding, right there and then, that I would be a history teacher. (That didn't happen.) Some months later...I discovered (now-called Classic) Star Trek. What does one have to do with the other? Since I was 11 years old, Star Trek has been a BIG part of my life. I was always the odd kid out. Wedged between two brothers, I never really fit in. I wanted to play with Barbies, but with a twist. My younger brother had GI Joes and a really, mono-cooly-wowit Gemini Space capsule--which I used to "borrow," along with Joe's "spacesuit," so my Barbie could be an astronaut--long before it was even possible for a woman to be an astronaut. (Imagine that. Now there's a woman running for president. How things change.) When Star Trek was on first run, Whoopie Goldberg (then a little girl known as Caryn Johnson) was watching Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura. Only as a black child, young Caryn identified with Uhura as a BLACK WOMAN in space--whereas I, a white kid. was identifying with Uhura as a WOMAN--and an officer--on the Enterprise, NCC-1701. Is it any wonder why I loved the character Guinan from the moment she appeared on Star Trek: The Next Generation? But, as usual...I digress. Fast forward to February 2008--and then back out again. For years, my hubby has talked about "I, Claudius." Yes, the 1976 BBC production starring Derek Jacobi . I remember back in 1987 as we were watching the first Next Generation episode my then "boyfriend" kept going on an on about Patrick Stewart as Sejanus in I, Claudius. On and on. Yada, yada, yada. (Oy, God, I tuned him out.) What the hell did I know about Patrick Stewart way back in 1976? Back then I was in the throes of Star Trek fandom--the original Star Trek fandom. The resurrection of Star Trek in all its forms is totally due to fan involvement. It was in 1974 or 1975 that I typed up my very first (and horribly written) Star Trek story. In 1976 I went to my very first Star Trek Convention. Back in 1976 Patrick Stewart probably didn't have a clue about Star Trek. Zoom ahead to 2007. "Merry Christmas, to you!" I got the ENTIRE seven-seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation on DVD. But I couldn't watch it! How frustrating is that? I was in the midst of deadline hell with the second Booktown mystery book. I was counting down the days until I could send that sucker to my editor so I could wallow in all that was ST:TNG. And I have. (Wallow, wallow, wallow!!!) At the same time...I bought for my hubby, the DVD box set of I, Claudius as a Christmas gift. Holy Crap--no wonder Hubby remembered Patrick Stewart. Whoa! Was that guy hot with hair? (Mind you, he was/is HOT without hair. Did I mention I'm attracted to "older" men? Kinda like my hubby, who is a tad (16 years) older than me?) And E-ville. (Sejanus--not Hubby.) Whenever Sejanus had to kill someone, he had this totally E-ville, sh*t-eating-grin on his face. What a nasty piece of work. No wonder the character (and the performance) stuck in Hubby's mind. So...lately I come in my office and watch Next Gen while I work on mindless aspects of promotion (and my gaze strays far too often to my little 13" TV set). Then at night I go into the living room and we watch an episode of I, Claudius. Talk about a rift in the space-time continuum. I never got to be a history teacher. My father wanted me to have a practical "career." So, like Spock, I picked computer science. Only I didn't have a flair or even any kind of understanding of the discipline. I ended up taking typing jobs (because keypunching was on the way out) at more than one (or two, or three) companies along the way. I think if I'd understood computers better, I never would have had a mind that strayed toward fiction. So I guess I made the right decision after all. I still have three seasons to go on my Next Gen DVDs...and only 6 more episodes to go on I, Claudius. Either way, I still get to see Patrick Stewart. Boy, howdie is that fine!
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Writers on Strike! posted by Jeanne Munn Bracken Well, I guess the writers' strike is over. I admit it: I have very little idea what it was all about, except it boiled down to money. The writers wanted more. I say to them, Right On! And I'm glad they got what they wanted, I truly am. But really--if most of us went on strike, who'd notice? Oh, sure, after a few years some fans would be clamoring for a new Jeff Resnick or a new Thea Kozak, but I'm guessing they'd suck it up and settle for one of the 3000 annual James Patterson titles, or maybe a Grisham thriller. My writing partner suggested that instead of writing a new blog this week, I should repeat an earlier one, with the explanation that I was thereby supporting the striking writers. I wasn't convinced, though, that blogging would constitute crossing picket lines, and in all honesty I doubt that those suffering from "Lost" withdrawal are surfing the blogging world looking for alternative entertainment. They're still glued to the tube, just watching game shows and reality series. I like game shows as well as the next guy. "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!" are my secret vices, the sine qua non for a peaceful evening at home. Even on Saturdays. Friends know not to call me between 7 and 8 pm ET. But some of the game shows that the networks have "cooked up" (seen the Food Channel lately?) to replace the dramas and sitcoms the writers weren't writing are pretty lame. I admit I will watch "1 vs 100" and "Power of Ten", but I would rather tear out my fingernails one by one than sit through an hour of Howie Whatshisname, the skimpily clad models and the briefcases. Enough! When the "action" breaks for a commercial before the Next Number is Revealed, every sane person in TV Land goes to bed or switches to wrestling. Deal? No, Howie, No Deal! And "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" started out as barely OK and somehow became a network phenomenon. Some of the questions were inanely simple, others more puzzling, but really: do we NEED to hear every thought that passes through the contestant's mind on the way to choosing a letter between A and D? Answer the question, already! I watched one of the lyrics contests once--ugh! It turns out the only songs I really know well are Protestant hymns, and you can imagine how many of them turned up on the program. I also learned fairly quickly that I am NOT smarter than a fifth grader (although I think I could take Jeff Foxworthy in a pinch). So...all the dramas and sitcoms are reruns. Over to Reality Shows. I used to say that my reality was dramatic enough, thank you very much, and I didn't need to watch other people make fools of themselves. I was wrong. As previously admitted, I got hooked on "Survivor" and that program dominates many of my Thursday evenings--right after "Jeopardy". Then my daughters introduced me to "Top Chef", and I was surprised how much I liked it. But of course, since I occasionally have to prepare a meal that doesn't involve a slow cooker, I did learn a thing or two from the show. Still, I knew things were getting desperate when I got hooked (thanks a lot, daughters!) on "Project Runway." My idea of fashion is matching denims, and I don't achieve even that look very often. It's a sad evening, though, when I miss an episode of the designers agonizing over their challenges and the startling results. (I can sew better than some of them, and I'm not that good.) But no "Star Trek" generations for me (sorry, Lorraine!), and I refuse to watch episodes of "CSI: Anywhere" more than once--and sometimes I can't even stomach that. I don't know what the rest of the TV world did during the strike, but I will confess my secret: I turned off the tube and read a good book. Lots of good books. Written by writers. That's us--and we're not going on strike any time soon.

Lorraine Bartlett

Five women, five weekdays, many surprises.

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