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Un Souffle Ardent
the random ramblings of an anachronistic revolutionary
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5th-Feb-2007 12:02 am - I'm still here, but...
shadows
I've been swallowed by the craziness of the term. AAAAH!
15th-Jan-2007 11:10 am - Back from the Frozen Tundra
shadows
(The Alpine Tundra, that is.) One of my housemates led a winter ascent of Moosilauke followed by camping in tents at the base - we originally wanted a cabin but they were all booked ages ago for the long weekend. It was really fun, the weather was great, and the summit in winter was a surreal experience. The mountain looks so different with snow all over it - still beautiful and peaceful, but in an entirely new way.

It got pretty cold at night and many of us were using 2 sleeping bags, since most of the winter camping ones from Outdoor Rentals had gone with the trip doing a winter ascent of Katahdin over the weekend. I was pleased with my bag - it's rated 20 degrees and is one of reportedly very few bags which actually lives up to its rating, and it still does even though it's ten years old. It went down to maybe 10 or 15 degrees and and I was very toasty in my bag plus a fleece liner, although admittedly I was wearing lots of layers too. But I stayed warm even when I got the brilliant idea of putting my nalgene in my sleeping bag to keep it unfrozen (an actual legitimate practice) and in my fuddled, sleepy state chose the one that had frozen the cap partly open... so of course, when it melted, it leaked water all over my feet. Then, even more brilliantly, I exiled all of my nalgenes to as far away from me as possible, so they all froze anyway and I had wet feet. But at least my wet feet were warm.

Actually, our body heat sort of melted all the ice under the tents, so we woke up in something of a puddle. I'm glad we didn't have to spend another night out, because all our stuff got soaked. But it was really fun anyway. I love playing outside.

All right, time to go do the all the schoolwork that I've been more or less avoiding for a week.
8th-Jan-2007 07:46 pm - Tantalus Update
Spock
I forgot to mention in the last post: Tantalus came up in our discussion of Greek Mythology in French class, and I found out that the Tantalus Device in "Mirror, Mirror" was appropriately named after all. Apparently in addition to the water that retreats when he tries to drink it and the tree that grows taller when he reaches for its fruit, Tantalus has a huge threatening boulder hanging over his head as part of his punishment.

Still, if I were the writer I think I'd have named the device the Sword of Damocles. The image of the sword waiting to strike is just so much more poetic than the boulder, especially given the emblem of the Terran Empire.

It's funny how answers to life's questions always seem to present themslves in a timely fashion. This isn't the first time I've come across an obscure reference only to have it crop up shortly afterward in a class or a book.
8th-Jan-2007 07:28 pm - Let the procrastination begin!
shadows
Every term I tell myself that this is the term when I'll finally be on top of my shit from Day One, and every term I start off almost immediately by doing everything I can think of except my work. Including posting to blogs. And doing all sorts of other falsely productive stuff like cleaning, organizing pencils, and balancing my checkbook.

Anyway, I'm even more convinced after day 2 of classes that I'm going to love all three of them, which is exciting. The history professor turned out to be a pretty interesting lecturer and very good at running even a 50-person class with class participation. The room, though a lecture hall, is set up in way that isn't prohibitive to students talking, which is nice. She also kept it from becoming a discussion proper and held it more in the form of prof-asks-question, students-volunteer-responses, which kept things under control. I only spotted 1 possible pretentious ass, who according to the Facebook (stop looking at me like that) is a freshman, so he may not be suffering from Pretentious Ass Syndrome but merely Overeager Freshman Syndrome. Memo to all possibly pretentious students: WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN TALKING FOR 5 MINUTES AND THE PROFESSOR CUTS YOU OFF, STOP TALKING! IT IS NOT AN INVITATION TO TALK LOUDER!

Reading over that last paragraph, I want to add that I'm not condemning the practice of speaking up in class. I fully support speaking in class, asking questions, bringing up relevant points, etc. But only if you actually have something to say! Too many people have had it drilled into them that Speaking A Lot In Class = Getting An A. Unfortunately, they're even right a lot of the time, and it means the rest of us have to sit through Mr. I'm Going To Make Sure I Get An A offer us his personal views on every minute detail of last night's reading, even though they are entirely irrelevant to the question the professor just asked.

Personally, I am content to sit and listen to good lecturers without feeling the need to engage in dialogue every other second. I'm also happy to participate in a class where it's expected and part of the procedure. I do not speak often, but I make sure I am heard if and when I have something relevant and contributory to say. I will also sometimes pipe up with an answer or at least a guess during that moment after the prof asks a question and there is awkward silence because nobody knows the answer. But I do not speak simply to show off to everyone that I read the assigned reading, and I especially do not hijack the discussion to make sure it covers a certain topic just so I can give the little prepared speech I wrote last night and showcase my intelligence. That is bullshit.

(end rant)
(deep breath)

My French prof set up 15-minute meetings with all the students and mine was this afternoon. He's the kind of guy that sets you instantly at ease. He assured me several times that if I woke up in the middle of the night conflicted and confused about Oedipe Roi, I should call him because that's his job. Also, in class today he shut off all the lights so that the room was pitch dark and started bellowing (in French), "I am Homer! I am blind, but I see clearly!" We're reading Sophocles, not Homer, but I suppose he wanted a fun introduction to the subject of mythology.

I thought about going to the gym before CnT meeting tonight, but I really can't stomach gym workouts this late in the day. I'm already planning to go for a run tomorrow afternoon, so maybe I'll end it at the gym and hit the weights for a bit.

OK, time to go be productive... by doing laundry.
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As it turns out, Linguistics 15: Historical Linguistics, to which I had been eagerly looking forward for at least three terms, suddenly acquired prerequisites between the last time I checked the course description (must have been this summer, before the new course guide came out for the fall) and now. There are plenty of classes with "prerequisites" that are technically required but not really necessary to do well in the class, but this isn't one of them - Ling 1 teaches you stuff like phonetic transcription that is apparently now a necessary skill for Ling 15. So to make a long story short, after going through the indecision and endless calculations to find my "third" course and finally settling on Psych 1, I was once again plunged into the search for a third course.

My initial thought was that I would take the English class I mentioned in my last non-Star Trek post. But when I looked again at the reading list, I realized that I had already read three of the six books. Sure, I liked them, and that was originally a draw. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn't really want to have to discuss, analyze, and write papers about books I've already read several times. I'm not sure I'd learn all that much. Also, one of the books on the list that I haven't read was Our Mutual Friend by Dickens. Dickens and I do not get along very well. A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities are wonderful books, but I haven't ever been able to finish anything else he wrote. No, scratch that, I think I did make it through Oliver Twist just by the skin of my teeth, but I've forgotten most of it. Someday I would like to try reading a Dickens novel as it was written - one chapter a week, or whatever. It would take a long time, but I think I might actually be able to get through it in small doses. Perhaps I'll even try that this term.

Almost randomly I noticed another course offered in the time slot I'm trying to fill that sounded really fascinating. It's a history course called "Creation of America" that covers from the end of the American Revolution to the Jackson era. It's a period I don't know much about - I know we covered it in AP US History in high school, but my memories of it are vague, and I'm pretty sure we skimmed quickly over a lot of it to save time. The course doesn't seem to have a huge amount of reading, which will make a nice change from my previous history courses and also hopefully provide me with a manageable term. I'm excited to go to the lecture for the first time tomorrow, which is hopefully a good sign. The only thing I'm a little worried about is that the syllabus insists on lots of class participation. When I enrolled the computer system informed me that there are 42 people in the class, and it's held in a large lecture hall. It is incredibly hard to run a class that size as a discussion, and forcing it doesn't work - people start raising their hands and saying whatever, just so the professor sees them speak once per class. It's not worth it - if she'd wanted a discussion class, she should have capped it at or below 25. Although that would probably mean I wouldn't be able to take it, so I guess I should count my blessings.

I hope the people from my last history class aren't there. The prof was a really nice guy, but you couldn't move in the lecture hall without tripping over some pretentious ass who would ask the kind of questions with long-winded lead-ins that are obviously designed to show the prof how incredibly knowledgeable you are, whoop-de-do. There were also people that would raise their hands to answer a simple question and then go on and on and on just to hear themselves talk. It was excruciating. I had to keep showing up because the prof took attendance, but for the first time in my life I brought my laptop to class so I could work on writing assignments for other classes while pretending to be taking notes. (If it seems hypocritical to complain about other people being long-winded, keep in mind that I was trapped there, while nobody is forcing you to read this blog!)

The sad part? Even though I stopped paying attention and doing the reading about halfway through the term, I got an A-. It's not something I'm particularly proud of.

But anyway, despite some disappointment and general scheduling upheaval, I think I'm in for a pretty good term. Fingers crossed!

P.S. Shouldn't LiveJournal's spell check dictionary include the word "blog"?
6th-Jan-2007 03:07 pm - "Mirror, Mirror" - "The Apple"
Spock
I'm letting myself post these now so I can show off the new user icon I made today, inspired by a hilarious scene right at the end of "The Apple."

"MIRROR, MIRROR"

Another one that I still enjoy even after many viewings.

Uhura totally kicks ass in this episode, and she does it wearing about a half meter square of fabric. Is the gold swirly thing on her upper arm a rank insignia? Normally it's on the sleeve, but the female uniforms lack sleeves, among other things. Marlena didn't have one, but she wouldn't as an Ensign.

Now all we need is Mirror Spock in a cloak, and I will swoon for sure... normally I don't like facial hair on guys, but Mirror Spock has that sexy pirate look going for him. I laughed out loud when Mirror Kirk, while being shoved into the brig, shouted at Spock "Where's your beard?"

I can't believe I never noticed before that Mirror Spock's bodyguard is a Vulcan.

The scenes with the "Captain's Woman" deserve a little bit of eye-rolling (particularly the look-at-this-piece-of-fabric-I'm -not-wearing moment) but they could have been much, much worse. As it is it contributes nicely to our peek at life in the Mirror Universe.

This episode also features the second best use of the word "apparently" on film, when Sulu dryly utters the lines: "Mr. Spock has orders to kill you. He will succeed... (tilts knife suggestively)apparently." (The best use of the word is at the end of the movie Bean when Rowan Atkinson opens his speech with, "I'm Doctor Bean... apparently.")

Kir says something to Spock during his little speech at the transporter console, something about "Galactic revolt, like the Halkans predicted." Did they predict such a thing? It must have been in a scene that was cut, or something, because I don't remember hearing that. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention.

I recently bought Diane Duane's book Dark Mirror on eBay, and I'm eager to see her (non-canon) version of a TNG visit to the Mirror Universe.

I'm a little puzzled as to why the magic zapping machine in Kirk's quarters is called a "Tantalus" device. Personally I would've called it a "Damocles" device. I wonder if someone mixed up their mythology, or if there's another reason to call it that that I'm not aware of.

I can never help but wondering how this episode would have played out differently if the uniforms hadn't been switched. Probably not as interesting, but you never know. I would also have liked to have seen more snippets of the Mirror landing party in "our" universe. There's potential for some humor in seeing how they got found out, etc. I wonder if any scenes like that were written and cut, or even filmed and cut?


"THE APPLE"

I was initially ready to dismiss this as a ripoff of "The Return of the Archons." The two episodes have exactly the same plot, but we've come a long way from Landru! This time, there is earnest debate about whether destroying Vaal was the right thing to do, and Spock is never quite convinced that it was. Interestingly enough, although in "Archons" Kirk mentioned the Prime Directive, Spock refers to it here only as the "Noninterference Directive." I think it's plain that this idea of noninterference is starting to be adopted by Starfleet Command, but it hasn't assumed the importance it will have in TNG.

This episode features a surprising amount of what you might call sexual innuendo, producing moments of hilarious awkwardness and a few more of 'wink wink, nudge nudge' quality. I wasn't thrilled to have to watch Chekov and Landon's rather painfully trite love scene but at least it had an actual purpose within the plot, unlike many of Kirk's.

It's tempting to start singing "Another one bites the dust" while watching all 4 landing-party redshirts meet their deaths.

The dude playing the Eyes/Ears/Voice/Etc of Vaal reminded me disturbingly of Mel Gibson - he had the blue eyes, the wide-eyed stare, and the distinctive speech pattern. Rather odd.

In the end, I'm not at all disappointed that the show chose to return to this plot idea, because they didn't do it that well the first go-round. The second try produced a thoughtful and well-written episode that actually takes an intellectual look at the question of noninterference vs. the necessity of growth (and the necessity of saving one's ship).

As a bonus, in the last thirty seconds we get what is possibly one of the funniest moments in the show, definitely one of the funniest outside of The Trouble With Tribbles.
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I found this quirky title generator at The View From the Foothills. (And yes, I tried it with my real name too, but I'm not telling!)

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Grand Duke Rodrigue the Abrupt of Wimblish upon Frognaze
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title
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More fun! (Never fear, the pace will slow significantly once classes start on Friday.)


OPERATION: ANNIHILATE!

The plot of this episode had potential, but it's riddled with holes. Making the dramatic buildup hinge on the characters being suddenly, inexplicably stupid is just plain bad writing. There is no reason bar sheer stupidity for Spock and McCoy to have overlooked the brightness of the sun as a possible factor. I'm not a scientist but I do know that the radiation emitted by a star is really all the same stuff, in a loose sense - it's the different wavelengths that divide it into visible light, x-rays, radio waves, etc. McCoy says he was zapping the cell thing with radiation, so it it would be damned idiotic of him not to have run through the entire spectrum of the star. I would almost buy it if he had only omitted visible light from his tests. However, it turns out that what kills the thing is high-intensity UV radiation. Since that's harmful to people, you'd think it would have been on the original list of possibilities.

I also can't buy that they are dumb enough run the test on Spock right away instead of waiting thirty seconds for the report to come back from the lab. And finally, they only half-explain the inner eyelid - presumably, the eyelid is transparent from the outside but entirely opaque from the inside. If its normal function is to cover the eye for an extended period during light blasts, the temporary blindness shouldn't have surprised Spock, given that he knew about the eyelid. They try to pass that off with "We ignore it, as you ignore your appendix" but that's just BS. Yes, humans don't often think about the appendix during normal daily life, but we remember it REALLY FAST when we get the excruciating stomach pain that means it's not behaving itself! Since Spock was surprised by the blindness yet knew about the eyelid, clearly the eyelid wasn't behaving normally.

Somewhere, maybe in the short story of this episode by James Blish, I remember reading a decent explanation for all of this: the author wrote in a scene in which it is explained that the eyelid was supposed to flip open again once the light level was reduced, but the enormous intensity to which Spock was exposed had somehow fried it shut. McCoy happens to notice it while examining Spock's eyes up close and surgically cuts it loose again. I find that decently plausible and will henceforth adopt it into my personal version of canon.

Before I am accused of being overly negative, please keep in mind that I couldn't have entirely hated this episode or I wouldn't waste my time nitpicking it this much. See "The Alternative Factor" in my last recap entry for an example of what happens when I hate something. This one really got under my skin because as I said right up front, it had so much potential!

Season One is at an end. On to Season Two!


"AMOK TIME"
Season Two starts out well - I've seen this one many times, and I always enjoy it. This is one of the few (maybe the only?) time Spock smiles without being under the influence of spores or whatever, although granted you could put it down to "lingering effects" of the pon farr, since it wasn't properly, uh, finished.

The glimpse of Vulcan culture is fascinating. There was already some mention in "Balance of Terror" that Romulans were an offshoot of the Vulcan race, and here they got a bonus of giving us another clue in that direction AND saving props money - the ceremonial Vulcan guards are wearing the Romulan helmets.

T'Pau is a fascinating character and I can fully understand the temptation in Enterprise to explore her backstory. (I haven't seen that so I won't pass final judgment, but I'm not really thrilled with what I've read about it!)

T'Pring goes on my slowly lengthening list of strong female characters, even if she was extremely bitchy. I find it very interesting that she states very clearly that she had no other way to divorce Spock. Does this issue really come up that rarely on Vulcan? I read a fanfic once in which there was a passing mention that T'Pring, by being the first in modern history to choose the challenge, had started a sort of women's lib movement on Vulcan that resulted in the adoption of a procedure for civil divorce. Looking at both sides of the story, you might almost be able to forgiver her if she had just chosen Stonn as her champion. In my book she only really starts earning Bitch Queen status with the have-my-cake-and-eat-it-too selection of Kirk. Even if it was "flawlessly logical" it was a damned dirty move.

I was going to treat you to a long, nitpicking analysis of T'Pau's speech patterns, which use "thee" as both a nominative and accusative pronoun, entirely neglecting "thou." I find the analysis so fascinating that I'm putting it aside for later study - if you're lucky (or maybe unlucky?) I'll give it it's own post later.


"WHO MOURNS FOR ADONAIS?"
Another episode with a hint more than the usual trace of science fiction elements - the idea that the Greek gods were really powerful space travelers is quite interesting. This episode could have been bungled horribly and come out quite absurd, but they did a great job with it, and the result is poetic, moving, and thought-provoking. Has humanity outgrown gods entirely by the 23rd century? Or will we just keep moving on to new ones, as has happened over and over again in the past?

Kirk has an interesting line - he says that humanity has no need for gods, "we find the One sufficient." You can practically hear the capital letter in the way he says it. I doubt they'd have put in that line these days, given that the world is currently violently divided along religious lines. Is the implication that all of humanity has converted to Christianity? There's little evidence of this on Star Trek - the closest this series ever came to having a Christmas episode was a character named Helen Noel. Is Kirk speaking for himself? Is he speaking in a general sense, with the acknowledgment that while nobody agrees on any of the specifics, quite a lot of people (though not all) believe there is Something out there? Is he just trying to say "Thanks, we've got enough gods, we don't need any more?" Hmm.

Unfortunately, we also have yet another woman bought by a pretty dress and the promise of being more than human. (See "Shore Leave" and "Space Seed".) She comes through for the crew in the end, but reluctantly. However, in a surprising nod to girl power, we see Uhura in what looks like one of McCoy's scrub shirts, doing delicate repairs and adjustments to the communications board. Spock even compliments her abilities. Uhura kicks ass.

Kirk's rather snide comment to McCoy about Scotty's (rather awkward but cute) pickup lines in the opening scene is uncalled for, given his track record - as was the ensuing commentary about female fickleness, which made me snort. Begging your pardon, Captain, sir, but you're the one who sleeps with a new girl every other episode and then ditches her in the end!


"THE CHANGELING"
It's fascinating to watch Star Trek deal repeatedly with the struggle of man vs. machine. The creators of the series felt the need to prove over and over again that man is superior to the computer. Computers were still in their earliest stage of development at the time, and it's fascinating to see how important the question was then. Not that it isn't still important - you might almost argue that it's more so, given the ubiquitous technology we are surrounded with every day. My ability to watch this episode on a little disc played on a computer I can hold in my lap would have seemed almost as futuristic as the Enterprise during the 1960's. Then, the computer was a great unknown, a rather frightening realm of possibility. The question is still with us, but now it is different - are our super-technological lifestyles making us overdependent on the machine? What happens if the machines break?

Or even worse, we could still ask the same question: what happens when the machines realize that we need them more than they need us?

The scene with Uhura re-learning to read is hilarious. Did someone suddenly decide that in Season 2 Nichelle Nichols needed more screen time? I back it. We also hear more of her gorgeous singing voice, which I don't think we've heard since "Charlie X."

I would also like to point out that the plot of Star Trek: The Motion Picture was virtually identical to this episode, only much, much longer and consequently very boring.

Also that it was very, very tempting to start singing "Daisy" as Nomad went into logic overload. But I didn't.
3rd-Jan-2007 10:58 am - Happy (belated) New Year!
shadows
I'm back on campus and trying to get everything in order before classes start on Friday. Actually they technically start on Thursday, but I don't have any classes that meet then. At this point it looks like I will be taking some pretty good classes. My French course for the term is called "French Theater Goes Greek" - I'm taking it for the prof, not the subject matter. He's one of the big names in second-language acquisition and is the one who developed the concept of "drill" sessions for beginning language classes - his methods are now widely used, I think even by organizations like the Peace Corps. I've met him once or twice before and heard him speak in public, and he's a very nice and funny person, so the class should be fun.

Next on the list is "Historical Linguistics" which I'm taking because it sounds interesting and is taught this term by a reportedly excellent prof, and also because it satisfies my requirement for a "quantitative and deductive science" (read: math) course. Yes, that's right, I'm satisfying my math requirement with a linguistics course. Ha. Take that, O Evil Spirits of Calculus.

I was going to take "American Fiction before 1900" as my third class but I looked at the reading list and cringed. I've already read four or five of of the novels on the list, and two of those were for high school. I really don't want to have to read Huckleberry Finn in a classroom context again, and I refuse to read The Scarlet Letter again at all. (Well, not really, I'll probably give it one more try someday, but I developed a mortal hatred for that book when I read it the first time.) I like Moby Dick but I've read it twice and still can't remember much about it, so analyzing it could pose problems if that happens again. I don't remember what else I had read, but there was at least one more. I'm grumpy that another English class "The 19th century English Novel" is meeting at the same time as the Linguistics course, because that reading list looked excellent - I'd read a few of those too (Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, etc) but I wouldn't mind reading those again, plus some of the other books (including The Moonstone) have been on my "To Read" list.

I think I will end up taking "Introduction to Psychology" - I think I'd find it interesting, especially having grown up with parents who specialized in psych. (In fact, the family joke was that they met at a mental hospital.) Dad was a psychologist, Mom's a nurse practitioner - she switched to working in allergy and asthma a little before she had me and stayed there until last year, but she's back in psych again now, taking care of crazy old people at the local hospital's inpatient geriatric psych unit. She loves it, and keeps telling me she wants to take some of the "cute old people" home with her. One of these days I'm going to get home for break and she'll have stolen some of them and put them in my room. Anyhow, it will be interesting to get a basic glimpse of the theories behind the practice.

Now I think I'll go join the throngs of enthusiastic New Year's Resolutionists that are probably at the gym. I guess I'm sort of one of them, since I've decided I should go to the gym more often. But to be fair to myself I started working out a few weeks before the end of the last term and have remained active since then - I think the stretch between the expiration of my temporary gym membership at home last Friday and today is probably the longest stretch of between some kind of physical activity I've had in over a month, be it running, gym workouts, hiking, or trailwork.

Off to get burly!
30th-Dec-2006 06:15 pm - More Episodes!
shadows
When I said I cleared the last of the backlog a few days ago, I lied... this time it's really true, though. This is a long post because I watched a bunch of episodes yesterday, and I had to intersperse some more that I already watched some time ago and made notes on for later posting. This really is the last of my pre-written stuff though - I have some notes about one or two Season 2 episodes that I set down after watching them with housemates, but in all likelihood I'll re-watch those when I get to them in order anyway.

A random thought that I mentioned before but didn't fully develop: William Shatner is not as bad an actor as he is cracked up to be. Or at least, he is now, but he wasn't in 1966. Many of his worst scenes aren't entirely his fault - sure, his delivery absolutely sucks whenever he does that "hmm, this is profound, I should pause a lot" trick, but the lines he is given to deliver at those moments are often somewhat pompous and awkward anyway. So yes, he's not a good enough actor to save a bad script, but that doesn't make him unconditionally terrible.


"RETURN OF THE ARCHONS"
This was an interesting one to watch with people who are much more familiar with TNG. They kept commenting about the Prime Directive, particularly since Kirk dismisses it rather offhand in one scene. Perhaps he ought to have thought about it a bit longer, but his ship was in a rather tight spot, and I agree with his basic reasoning - the computer was a negative influence on an unhealthy society. Given that they rarely mention it, I think it's fairly clear that the Prime Directive is slightly less of a concern in the TOS era than it comes to be later.

The concept behind this episode is interesting, but it wasn't well developed. Too much is left unexplained for too long; the Red Hour is never explained at all, or even questioned by the landing party. It's clearly a method of releasing of built-up emotional energy, but it might have been nice to actually establish this, even with just an offhand line or two. The Enterprise crewmen spend most of the time sitting around in various stages of captivity, which is boring. Finally, the idea of Kirk taking only about ten seconds to outthink a computer that has run an entire planetary society for six thousand years is a bit laughable. If it were Spock, I might be willing to buy it. Kirk, no.

Can I just say that Spock looks amazingly good in a cloak? Not with the stupid towel around his head, but the scene in the random dungeon when he had discarded the towel but was still wearing the cloak. Wow. I wonder why cloaks aren't more of a fashion statement these days. Everyone looks good in them.


"SPACE SEED"
I didn't make notes on this one when I watched it, and I didn't feel like watching it again in order since it's one I've seen several times, but for the sake of completeness I'll try to jot down a bit about it now. I don't remember a whole lot of the specifics other than Ricardo Montalban having real chest muscles as opposed to the obviously fake ones he sports in The Wrath of Khan. Also the opinion that Lt. Marla McGivers should be publicly shot as a disgrace to womankind.

It's amusing to note that we're clearly in some alternate, divergent timeline from the one that produces the TOS era, since the 1990's have come and gone and we haven't had the Eugenics Wars. Oh well.


"A TASTE OF ARMAGEDDON"
This episode has what may be the greatest line ever written for TOS: "Sir, there is a multilegged creature crawling on your shoulder." In all seriousness, I liked this one - it brings up some interesting intellectual questions about the costs of war and the alternatives of dealing war and dealing peace. I've heard it said elsewhere that it takes so much cooperation to fight a war, couldn't people just cooperate a little bit more? It's also one of the few episodes in which Kirk doesn't kiss the hot lady, which is surprising given that there actually is a hot lady present. (I mean, nobody was surprised when Kirk didn't score in "Devil in the Dark." Or were we?)


"THIS SIDE OF PARADISE"
In a surprising twist, in this episode it's Spock who gets the Blonde Of The Week (TM). This episode was rather touching - without diminishing the amazing work of Leonard Nimoy, I think Spock's character development owes a ton to the imagination of one D. C. Fontana. I did have to groan when Spock instantly came out with "I love you" after being showered in spores, but the way I choose to read it is that he did, at least at some point in his life, feel that for Leila - he just couldn't honorably act on it because of his betrothal to T'Pring. Nimoy's work in this episode is stellar - he gives in to his emotions, but in a quiet and reserved way that is still recognizably his own personality. He's still Spock, even when he's laughing. I was ready to hate Jill Ireland - she looks like the typical blonde space cadet in that first shot with all the soft lighting and ridiculous gooey music. In fact she was actually one of the better actresses to play a love interest on this show. The scene in the transporter room at the end was particularly well done.


"THE DEVIL IN THE DARK"
This is one of my favorite episodes, because it addresses such a universal concept in such a creative way. I think the development of Kirk and Spock's realization that they've judged too quickly based on appearances, that the Horta's actions are completely justified, is very well done. It's also interesting to note that Spock can get at least a peripheral mindlink with the Horta without touching it.

Of course, another reason I like this episode is that it provided the springboard for Diane Duane to develop her wonderful character, Lt. Naraht.


"ERRAND OF MERCY"
This is another one I think I missed the first time around; I really enjoyed it. I love the character of Kor. The scene where he and Kirk continue bickering after all the weapons superheat is priceless. I also like that Kirk and Spock get to walk around looking fabulous in Renaissance garb. We've already discussed how good Spock looks in a cloak. This episode makes it fairly clear that the Prime Directive isn't as stringent in this era - Kirk and Spock just beam down onto Organia and start offering technology and protection to an apparently pre-industrial society. Even in a war situation, I doubt Picard would be allowed to do this - he would be expected to somehow protect the planet from the Klingons without letting the inhabitants ever find out anything was going on. I'm sure there's probably even an episode with that plot.


"THE ALTERNATIVE FACTOR"
This was the most boring episode I have yet seen. It consists of endless scenes of Lazarus ranting nonsensically, endless slow-motion fight scenes in the weird blue lighting of the "corridor" between universes, and endless stupidity on the part of the Enterprise crew who let Lazarus wander around freely, light the ship on fire, and steal shit. Some episodes are bad because they have silly premises, or bad actors, or terrible scripts, but those at least are usually amusing. I literally dozed off during this one.


"CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER"
At least I got to follow up a bad episode with a good one. This is easily the best piece of science fiction written for TOS - it's very different from the other episodes, much more tightly plotted. Each time I watch it I like Joan Collins as Edith Keeler more - not only is the acting good, her lines are really well written, which is a rarity for TOS love interests. And I love the scene where McCoy pops out of the wall and scares the crap out of the homeless guy.

It's almost too bad they didn't reuse the idea of the Guardian of Forever later in the series. We don't see it again until "Yesteryear" in TAS, and of course A.C. Crispin's novel Yesterday's Son. Although I guess TOS did enough mucking about with time as it was - the Temporal cop guy in DS9's "Trials and Tribble-ations" mutters darkly about Kirk's large rep sheet of temporal violations. But you can hardly blame them, after all - it's a fun plot device, and if they go back to Earth you get a bonus of actually having a semi-legitimate reason to use somebody else's leftover period costumes instead of buying your own.

One episode to go, and then I'm finished with Season One!
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