Saturday, March 28, 2009


Some things you just don't argue about in our office.

This all started because we were talking about high heels. Apparently there are some women's styles in which the heels are pushing four-inches. I keep up with a lot of things, but that's not generally an issue that's on my radar.

I recalled, however, an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which Capt. Picard employed the holodeck to re-create a Dixon Hill private eye novel of the 1940s. Gates McFadden as Doctor Crusher had to don high heels for the first time and had trouble navigating steps in them. Apparently in the future they won't have high heels. Maybe that's science fiction.

"Yeah, that was like the one from the show with Kirk," one co-worker said.

"They didn't have the holodeck in the original series," I said.

"Yes they did."

"Where's Rebecca?" I asked.

We have one uniform-owning Trekkie. Yeah, Trekkie not Trekker, some of you know what I'm talking about, but I figured she'd be suitable confirmation.

She was out.

I went a little further up the hall and found our graphic artist. "You ever watch the Original Series."

"Of Star Trek?

I was willing to forgive him that. He's young, and I am confident he would know what I meant if I said something like: "These aren't the droids we're looking for. " If, you know, I were going to cross references.

"Of Star Trek.," I assured. "You can confirm there were no holodecks in TOS, right?"

"Right, they didn't have holodecks."

We went to the back of the building again where the debate was raging.

"OK," I said, hit it."

"There were no holodecks in the one with Kirk," said the artist dutifully.

"But when I watched with my father, they had them," my co-worker contended, refusing to concede.

We got the Boss.

"Holodecks? Original series?" I asked.

"No," he said.

"But they went into the past?" said the unrelenting co-worker.

"But not with holodecks. Besides on holodecks they weren't really going into the past...but that's a different issue. There were no holodecks in TOS."

"But what about...?"

"Wait a minute," I said. "Are you talking about an episode where they went back to the '30s and met Joan Collins by jumping through the Guardian arch?"


The Boss, the artist and I all responded in unison: "City on the Edge of Forever."

Written by Harlan Ellison," I added.

"You know who wrote it?" the co-worker asked.

"It's kind of a big deal. He and Gene Roddenberry used to argue..."

It's a little like The Big Bang Theory in here," our statistician observed. "You guys know episode titles? It's like Sheldon."

"I can remember a time I forgot the title of Balance of Terror ," I said defensively, trying not to sound too much like a nerd. Too late.

"You know, it's not part of the cannon, but the Guardian Arch did appear in the animated series," the boss noted.

I had to think for a second. Then I looked at him and nodded.

"Yesteryear!" we said in unison.

"Spock goes back in time to save his younger self," I blurted.

The argument was obviously resolved now.

The Takeaway: Never, never argue with even an aging nerd about The Original Series.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm Becoming a Fan of the Dollhouse

I know the future of Fox's Dollhouse is iffy, but I became a full-fledged fan with the revelations in the recent episode "Man On The Street," penned by creator Joss Whedon. I watched on Hulu since it unfortunately aired opposite the Battlestar finale. Friday night really is sci-fi night.

To me, Dollhouse's ongoing mythology has always been the most intriguing part, and certainly the most original element of the series, shining brighter than some of the hour-long stories that have sent programmable heroine Echo (Eliza Dushku) into somewhat familiar perils.

In one installment she was assigned to pose as the fiance of a hunter who tried to make her his prey. In another she was part of a heist team that wound up trapped in the vault they were pillaging, but those contained stories are really side dishes.

Revelations in "Man On The Street" suggest a much more twisty plot ahead for Echo, a college student whose personality was wiped in order to make her one of the "dolls" --human robots of the shadowy title organization that provides wealthy clients with hot escorts, body guards or backup singers, all customized by science-fictiony techniques that print new personalities and capabilities on the empty human vessels.

Some series might stop with just that premise, but Dollhouse stirs the pot with Paul Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett, Battlestar's Helo), one of those rogue, obessive FBI agents, working outside channels in pursuit of answers in a closed case tied to what many superiors believe is an urban myth.

Just as he did with the seemingly cheesy premise of Buffy, Whedon has crafted a unique and offbeat episodic serial. It's not given to the heavy breathing the premise might suggest, especially with the dual motives that seem to be simmering in Dollhouse franchise manager Adelle (Olivia Williams), who's flanked by Laurence Dominic (Homicide's Reed Diamond at his most sinister) and Echo's "handler," the earnest and ethical Boyd Langton (Harry Lennix). It's actually quite a well-rounded ensemble. Especially when nerdy imprint-wrangler Topher (Fran Kranz) is thrown in.

Top all that with generous doses of kung fu, and you've got an entertaining mixture.

Here's hoping the show gets the cable back-up deals needed to survive. It's TV-in-the-den-worthy viewing, for sure.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Catch Up

I don't have anything extremely profound today, just thought I would check in with a brief biographical update to stay in touch.

My Allen Smithee moment
I have had my name taken off a project I put a lot of energy into. It's not a Hollywood project but it had started to feel like one. The camel-back-breaking straw was finally produced after a good bit of back-and-forth with editors. It came while I was in the midst of my school residency at Goddard, and perhaps the climate of art and aesthetics contributed. At any rate I threw up my hands, and I've moved on. I was going to write a longer post about the affair but didn't have that much that was profound to offer.

Miss Daisy
Christine took Miss Daisy to the vet today for a check-up. Dee's been hanging in well of late, and her tests looked good. Considering for a while last summer we thought she might make it only a couple of months, we're very thankful.

Got my first packet back today with positive notes from my advisor. I spent a good bit of time reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle for this packet, and my paper on it was viewed positively, so that was nice. Good book by the way. I'll try to get more posted on it.

I'm reading The Wycherly Woman by Ross MacDonald now toward a paper on detective novels. Have about two weeks to get my thoughts together and write that.

We're getting lots of subscribers and Fear on Demand is part of the Horror Podcasting Network now which is getting us a little added attention. Everyone is liking the stories thus far.

The Day Job
It's a day job. Guess I'll continue to ride that horse as long as it will run.

That's the big stuff for now. Catch up complete.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One-Page Screenplay Contest

I decided to adapt one of the flash pieces I did for Halloween for a One-Page Screenplay Contest. A lark, a whim, what the heck?

I figured a one-page effort was something I could fit in around other things. Above all, it offered an interesting exercise in economy. An already short effort required even further trimming to fit on a single page with screenplay formatting.

That meant a lot of internal debate:

"Is this word essential?"

"Is that word redundant?"

Eventually, I did it, converting the persona's monologue into a brief exchange between two characters. OK, one character had one line, but still dialog.

I don't know how it will fare. Some of the previous winners were a little more action-oriented, but it was fun to try, and I don't think any effort you make creatively is wasted. You always learn and gain insight.

Entry costs $10 and the deadline has been extended through April if anyone is interested.
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