Star Trek: Into Cannon Darkness

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

startrek

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big closet Star Trek fan, but with the baby on the way it took a little more than a week to get into theaters and fulfill my Trekie obligation of seeing Into Darkness.  I left the movie mostly satisfied, but came to a realization: this movie is really tied down by mythos and cannon, and it definitely got in the way of the story.

I’ll admit that I was pretty excited to think that they were going to do a “Khan” story. I have a soft spot in my heart for “alternate histories” (a la the Age of Apocalypse, the New 52, or even Yesterday’s Enterprise), and I thought it would be interesting to see how Khan would be developed in this post-Vulcan Trek universe.  However it became pretty apparent that in the writers room went something like this:

“Ok, we’re going to remake the Wrath of Khan.”

“Wait a minute, who said we were going to remake the movie? I thought that we were telling a new story!”

“No, we are, but people expect to see Wrath of Kahn, so I made this list of nostalgic things from the Wrath of Khan that we need to see in this movie.  Let’s put these things in the movie – this is where we want to end up. Now figure out how we get there.”

“…”

I’m sure the remake checklist had the following items in it:

  • Someone needs to scream “KHHAAAAAAN!”
  • Spock Kirk needs to die, let’s get in the “needs of the many” line
    • In fact, let’s make sure the death involves getting the mains back on line
    • Also let’s get Scotty there talking about radiation flooding
  • Lets get 2 Marcus’ in there: Carol and preferably the son, but if the son’s not available – then her dad.
  • Don’t forget Section 31, because they weren’t so secret after all.

They started there, then filled in the blanks to round out the story, counting how many times they can wink to the audience with mentions of Harry Mudd and Tribbles.

Look, I appreciate the callbacks.  The older (and more married) I get, the less opportunities I have to watch Star Trek, so I love opportunities to geek out. That said: you can talk about “a reboot” all you want, but Star Trek now has even more baggage than ever.  At least before they had to worry about the mythos and history of Trek, but now they need to figure out how they can recycle the same stories and keep the interest of all the Trekies.  You’re letting it get in the way of good story-telling, and before you know it you’ll accomplish the very thing you wanted to avoid with a reboot – alienating casual fans. Right now I’m dreading the “Genesis” references that the next movie will bring.

Trek writers & producers: please don’t worry about ruining my childhood. Through Netflix and my DVD collection, I can go relive those moments when I yearn for nostalgic Trek. Instead, just write a good story. Use some or even no past Trek characters, but if you’re looking for somewhere to begin: start with a compelling villain.

Goodbye Motorola

Nearly four years ago I entered the world of Android with the original Motorola Droid. Two years later, I was eager to upgrade to one of the most early anticipated Android phones: the Droid Bionic.  Like many, I was led to believe that this was going to be Motorola’s next flagship phone, ushering an error of dual-core processors and 4G LTE.  After months of delays, I stood in an (albeit small) line on release day to get the phone, only to find out that this wasn’t the flagship device I was looking for. 

driodbionic

A month later Motorola released their revamped Razr line, a phone that learned all of the lessons from the mistakes that caused the Bionic to become so delayed.  As quickly as the Bionic flashed onto the scene, the phone seemed to have fizzled out from Motorola’s roadmap.  Soon it became apparent that I bet on the wrong horse, that this phone was the red-headed step-child that Motorola conveniently ignored.  The device had some pretty gaping holes, from a crappy camera to unstable Bluetooth.  I realize that every phone has its problems, there isn’t a perfect one out there – but the issue came with how Motorola addressed Bionic problems: they ignored them.

The phone shipped with Gingerbread installed, with a promise to upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich soon.  As the months passed, the promises of the upgrade grew more ambiguous, as we watched more and more phones released after the Bionic get upgraded.  Over a year after its release, with Jelly Bean on the horizon, Motorola and Verizon finally gave us our coveted upgrade.  Again more empty promises were made about the Jelly Bean upgrade, and of course the Bionic’s younger cousins got first dibs on the new bits, with the Bionic not being updated until last month.

Don’t think Bionic owners got a raw deal? Just ask Motorola’s VP of Product: he admitted as much last September.  Nothing changed however, Motorola has got bigger problems to deal with.  Google has all but cast them out from the product party, there doesn’t seem to be any worthwhile products in their pipeline.  The rumored “X Phone” is all but vaporware, with Google reportedly pulling out of the device’s development.

Here we are in May, when I become eligible for an upgrade, and not only has Motorola not given me any incentive to stay, but they’ve justified my resentment of their products, to the point where I won’t even own a Motorola device ever again.  Now that the Galaxy S4 is out, I’m more than happy to buy a product from a company that hasn’t ignored their products the way Motorola does.  Thanks for introducing me to the world of Android, Motorola – but I’m happy to leave you for greener pastures.

New Drumming Pet Peeve: Backline Sharing

drumset

When it comes to drumming, I’ve had a busy couple of months.  At one time I was juggling four steady drumming gigs, and was looking at the possibility of adding another one.  Now with the baby coming, I’m taking a bit of a sabbatical from drumming – at least as far as gigging projects are concerned – to get ready for the new parent adventure.  Given that I’m going to have a little bit of musical downtime, I wanted to share some reflections from the road.

First and foremost, I’ve uncovered my new drumming pet peeve: backline sharing. Like most things on the road to Hell, this is based on the good intention (usually made by people who are not drummers).  For those that don’t know, backline sharing is when drummers, bass players (and any other instruments with bulky gear) are asked (or in my case, volun-told) to share their gear for a multi-band bill.  Whether you’re on the one doing the sharing, or taking part in someone’s shared gear – this is a lose-lose situation.  Like I said, this decision is usually made by someone who doesn’t play any of these instruments, thinking only of how they can cut corners and minimize the transition time between bands.

The bottom line is that as a drummer, I have spent a considerable amount of time and money to get the sounds that I feel best compliment my playing style, as well as the type of music that I’m playing that evening.  This was culminated from many hours spent in the drum shop finding that perfect cymbal or snare drum head, then going home and determining the exact placement of each part of your kit.  When you’re asking your drummer to backline share on someone else’s kit, you’re unknowingly saying a big “Efff you” to their musicianship and the time they spent to getting their instrument to sound the best for your music. 

I understand there are certain exceptions (like school drum sets) where you’re not playing on your own kit, but I often equate that to driving a car: I can drive someone else’s car and get around for the most part, but when it comes to understanding how the car corners, brakes and maneuver in tight spaces – you want your own vehicle. The same goes for drumming. If you’re asking me to give my best (often to help us earn money), let me cook with my own ingredients.

It’s bad enough to be asked to share someone else’s instrument, but when you’re asked to do the sharing: you’ve taken it to a completely worse level.  All that I said about putting in the time and effort to get the perfect sound out of your kit, is not a cheap process – and now you’re asking me to entrust my kit to someone who I’ve never met before and likely won’t see ever again?  Seriously? In one of my first bands, one of my band-mates was goofing around on my kit and busted up my brand new Pearl Eliminator pedal, with no offer to help rectifying the situation (luckily the pedal was under warranty and Pearl was great about fixing it), but from that point on I decided to go against the lessons my parents taught me – (when it comes to my drums,) NO SHARING!  Now while I’m watching the opening act, rather than mentally preparing for the music I’m going to play, I’m now fixated on the stranger playing my drums and cringing at the possible damage that’s being inflicted on a prized possession.

So memo to band-leaders: you’re thinking that you’re doing us a favor with us lugging less gear, but lugging gear is part of drumming – I’m more than happy to deal with it.