The Inverse Function

Back in November of 2015 I wrote a guest post for my friend Lindsey McNeill (Scream Queen B)'s blog. It was about ageism against women in Hollywood and embracing aging instead of fighting it and wanting to see more women of all ages onscreen... it's the kind of post that bears repeating over and over again because it never goes out of style, sadly. We never learn to embrace aging and we really should. Hollywood really should. So here, then, is a teaser of that post (called 'The Inverse Function') along with Lindsey's blush-inducing flattering introduction. Please please please click the link at the end to go to the original post to finish reading it there. Because I have things to say and they're worth reading... and I know it takes time to click but I like to give credit where credit is due and Lindsey coaxed this post out of me and hosted it first so finish reading it on her site. Thank you!  xoxo Corinne the VampireNomad

 

#BITCHPLEASE  I met Corinne Simpson on set of the Sexy Voter campaign, where she demonstrated the delight of individual eyelashes. After quickly discovering we're both writers, both into horror and feminism, we decided we better go for coffee. Our new friendship has lightened my spirit with so much needed laughter and shared wisdom that I'm reminded of a universal force that brings people together at just the right time. Plus, a woman who can use Star Trek: The Next Generation to perfectly illustrate my current spiritual obstacles... you wanna keep her around and thank her daily. 

She is a superb storyteller (I will never think of breakfast quite the same) and a brilliant mind. When she offered to write piece on Hollywood and the invisibility of women of a certain age - particularly in relationship to men - well I knew this was something to share and discuss. So please enjoy and give her some love!

 

THE INVERSE FUNCTION

GUEST POST BY CORINNE SIMPSON.

There is a curious thing that happens in Hollywood as women age: they become invisible.  Or rather, they simply don’t age.  It’s a phenomenon I like to affectionately call The Inverse Function because I am very mathematically inclined.  No, that’s a joke, I’m not at all but I do full-heartedly support women in STEM and believe more women should be in STEM fields because our world is our battleground and our playground simultaneously.  Women should define and explore it as much as men.  I digress.  Defined, inverse means “(of a proportion) containing terms of which an increase in one results in a decrease in another.  A term is said to be in inverse proportion to another term if it increases (or decreases) as the other decreases (or increases)”. So, like my bank account and makeup collection: that is an inverse relationship.  As my makeup collection increases, my bank account decreases.  But in Hollywood The Inverse Function I refer to is age-related.  Specifically: as actors age (or increase in years), their lead actresses get younger (or their ages decrease).........

to finish reading click here: Scream Queen B and The Inverse Function

 

by: Corinne Simpson

 

Weekly Trek – August 22-28, 2016

We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek this year, and it could not have lasted this long without entering the pop culture consciousness of the world.  Even people who have never seen an episode have some familiarity with the franchise, even if it’s just as simple as knowing the phrase, “Beam me up, Scotty” (Something no one on the show ever actually said, at least not in exactly that way.).

The film Galaxy Quest, which I discussed in THIS POST, is practically one giant Star Trek reference, and television nods and parodies abound.  Today, though, I wanted to talk about Star Trek and music. 

I’m not sure what pop culture property has the most mentions in mainstream songs.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Superman, considering the number of songs that I can think of right off the top of my head that are either about him or reference some aspect of the character.  Star Trek, however, has had its share of mentions in songs ranging from Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” to the Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” to even a Jimmy Buffet song, “Boat Drinks.”

My favorite band that used a fair number of Star Trek clips was Information Society, which used several in the songs on their 1988 self-titled debut album, including the biggest hit from the record, “What’s On Your Mind.”  You can watch the video, complete with Trek audio clips HERE.  WARNING (Or possibly Bonus depending on how you feel): It is so VERY 80s.

All of the references above and really most of the ones that have ended up in popular songs have come from the original Star Trek series.  However, Star Trek: The Next Generation has gotten a nod at least ones.  In the 1996 song “Banditos,” by The Refreshments, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the United Federation of Planets are both name-checked.

Outside of mainstream music, Star Trek has had many, many songs dedicated to it.  Perhaps the most famous is the comedic 1987 song “Star Trekkin’” by The Firm.  And there’s at least one entire band, Warp 11, that does nothing but Star Trek-related songs, most of which have adult content, so be warned.  You can see their video for “She Make It So” HERE

A couple of my personal (and somewhat off-color) favorites are by Aurelio Voltaire, “The USS Make Shit Up” and “Screw the Ocampa.”   As you can probably guess from the titles, these songs aren’t exactly serious.

And there are tons more Star Trek songs out there.  For an extensive but still not complete list, check out THIS LIST housed at Memory Alpha.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter

Weekly Trek – August 15-21, 2016

If you’ve followed Star Trek at all, you’ve heard of the USS Enterprise, Deep Space Nine, and the USS Voyager.  But what about the USS Excalibur?

Don’t worry if it’s not ringing a bell.  The ship was only on screen in one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and mentioned in a Voyager episode.  On the page, though, the Excalibur has been very busy.

In 1997, Pocket Books published four short novels in a new series called Star Trek: New Frontier by Peter David.  David is very prolific (His bibliography includes over 50 novels, many comics, teleplays and film scripts.), and he had already written a number of novels for the established Star Trek lines at this point, including the popular Imzadi and Vendetta novels for the TNG line. 

In New Frontier, David was given free reign to create his own ship and crew without having to worry about squeezing events in between episodes and making sure that every character was left unchanged so as to not conflict with the television series.  He did, however, bring in characters that had made brief appearances on TNG, including Ensign Robin Lefler (Played by Ashley Judd) and Commander Elizabeth Shelby (Who had only been seen in the “The Best of Both Worlds” two-parter) from TNG. 

New Frontier starts with the USS Excalibur and its captain, Mackenzie Calhoun, going into Thallonian space (The Thallonians are also a Peter David creation) to lend aid in the midst of the political upheaval there.  David quickly establishes his new characters while moving the story along at a breakneck pace.  Captain Calhoun is unlike any of his televised predecessors, but he’s the man you want when you’re heading into a fight.  David writes fantastic action and also understands that humor and Trek work well together, which has made him my favorite of all the Trek novel writers.

Since New Frontier began in 1997, there have been over 20 books, comics, and short stories, the most recent being a three-part ebook published last year.  That may sound a little daunting, but my guess is that once you finish the first book, you will just want to keep going until you’ve read it all.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter

Weekly Trek – August 8-14, 2016

This week we are going to get a bit on the obscure side of Star Trek.  Let’s start with a question: Who was the first captain of Kirk’s USS Enterprise (The Constitution class NCC-1701)?

Now if you’ve read most of these posts or have a bit of Trek knowledge, you might have answered Christopher Pike, who was seen in Star Trek’s first pilot episode, “The Cage” and the two-part episode of the original Star Trek series, “The Menagerie,” which repurposed footage from “The Cage.”  Pike also appeared in 2009’s Star Trek film and its sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness.

It’s a good answer, but depending on your version of the Star Trek canon, it’s not correct.  If you ask most die-hard Trekkies that question, they will give you a different name:

Robert April

(See, I told you this would be obscure.)

Don’t bother trying to find a mention of Captain April in the original Star Trek television series or in the new films.  He has never appeared or even been talked about there.  He first pops up, however, in Gene Roddenberry’s original pitch for Star Trek to MGM Studios back in 1964.  MGM rejected the proposal, and by the time NBC gave the go-ahead to make a pilot, April had been changed to Pike.

Years later, April did actually make an appearance in “The Counter-Clock Incident,” a 1974 episode of the Star Trek animated series (and also the series finale).  In the episode, an elderly Commodore April, who is now serving as a Federation Ambassador-At-Large, and his wife, Sarah, are travelling on the Enterprise to Babel for April’s retirement ceremony when the ship passes into a reverse universe where everyone begins aging backwards at a rapid rate.  With Captain Kirk and the rest of the crew quickly reduced to children, April and Sarah, who are now back in their prime, take over and get the Enterprise back to their home universe. 

While this is an actual televised episode, “The Counter-Clock Incident” and the entire animated series are not considered official canon (Maybe.  Even that is unclear.  If you are really interested in the issue, check out the “Questionable Canon” section of THIS ARTICLE.).  Despite this status, several elements of the animated series have later been used in actual canon episodes (aka the live action stuff).  Robert April, however, has not yet joined that group.

He has been featured in various Star Trek novels and comic books, but in each of these his characterization is wildly different from the others.  He also has an entry in The Star Trek Encyclopedia put out by pocket books.  Appropriately enough, the picture used is one of Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter

Weekly Trek - August 1-7, 2016

Have we all seen Star Trek Beyond now?  I hope so.  If not, be warned that I’m pretty much going to spoil the entire film over the course of this post.  I’ll put a little buffer text in below to give you a chance to warp away.

Space…

The

Final

Frontier

 

This is not going to be a traditional movie review.  I don’t know how to review a Star Trek film that way.  I can’t.  I’ve got too much emotionally invested in this franchise, and there are over 600 hours of previous Trek floating around in my brain.

So let’s start with the basics.  Did I like the movie? 

Yes.  Absolutely yes.  That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have some issues with it, which I will get to later, but considering how…not thrilled I was with the first couple of trailers for the film (Which I explained HERE and HERE.), I am positively ecstatic about the end result.

The overall storyline is fine.  It’s nothing particularly amazing, but, as many reviews have pointed out, it’s the closest these new films have come to feeling like an episode of the original series.  The ship visits a strange new world, stuff happens, and then on to the next adventure.  Granted, it’s not quite that simple in Beyond, but we are finally in the midst of the five-year mission, which it seemed like we were starting at the end of 2009’s Star Trek but that actually started at the end of 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness

I also appreciated the attempt to make the USS Enterprise feel more like the crew’s home in the first few minutes of the film.  As I said in THIS POST about the two JJ Abrams Star Trek films, “What [Star Trek: The Motion Picture director Robert] Wise and other directors (including Leonard Nimoy) understood and Abrams did not is that the Enterprise is more than a space ship, more than a way to get from here to there, and even more than a home.  The Enterprise is practically a character herself.”  Star Trek Beyond and its director, Justin Lin, can’t overcome two movies of neglect in the opening of this latest film, but I did feel like that they tried.

And while the first trailer in particular made Beyond look like a generic action-fest that happened to have some Star Trek elements, the final film instead gives us time with the characters that we loved since the original Star Trek television series.  There’s plenty of action as well, but the main cast all get their storylines and moments (McCoy and Scotty were the standouts for me).  There’s also a very well done acknowledgement of Leonard Nimoy’s passing as well as the history of these characters. Unfortunately, this will be Anton Yelchin’s final appearance as Chekov, and he probably is the least served by the script.  He has plenty to do as he runs around with Kirk, but I can’t say that much of it deepened his character.  Mostly he’s there to give Kirk someone to talk to and to spout technobabble.

The main villain, Krall, is a bit underdeveloped (Which seems to be the norm for the newer films), but I was impressed and more than a little surprised at how deep Simon Pegg and his cowriter Doug Jung went into Star Trek lore for his background and motivations.  Krall’s past as a MACO as well as the technology mentioned for the USS Franklin (Polarized hull plating and such) comes straight out of the last and possibly least regarded Star Trek television series, Star Trek: Enterprise, which ran from 2001 to 2005 on the now-defunct United Paramount Network.  I think of Enterprise as being recent, but it went off the air over 10 years ago.  For people in their 20s now, that might be the Trek that they grew up with and remember most fondly. 

The movie is also very funny.  That’s not to say that it’s a comedy in the vein of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (which actually had world-ending stakes), but the film finds moments of levity between the characters, just as the original series always did.  The conversation surrounding Spock’s gift of a necklace to Uhura is hilarious while also perfectly fitting the characters.

What didn’t I like? 

As I mentioned above, Krall is underdeveloped, and I wonder if there are several scenes left on the cutting room floor explaining his development a bit more.  For example, why did he change his name to Krall anyway? 

Really, though, just about everything involved with Krall, the planet, and his plan are underdeveloped.  Jaylah, the alien Scotty meets who ends up being a huge help to the crew, talks about Krall’s assistant like we should know who he is.  At no point prior to this, though, is he given a name or really made to stand out from the others helping Krall.  And what about the goons that threaten her and Scotty?  Do they work for Krall?  Are they just wandering the planet as well?  If there are roving gangs of other aliens that crashed on the planet, why didn’t anyone else run into them? 

Just how many of those drones does Krall have anyway?  How long has he been able to leave the planet?  If he could leave as soon as he found those drone ships, which he talks about in his log entry from soon after he ended up on the planet, why did he stick around for over 100 years?  Obviously he left at some point, so he could hack the Federation and probably to gather the other pieces of the bioweapon.  Considering how many of the drone ships he has, why does he even need to bother with the cosmic scavenger hunt for his bioweapon?  He could have taken out Yorktown station at any point.  This is a belabored way of saying that his plan just doesn’t make sense once you think about it.  This isn’t uncommon for action movies, though.

What also isn’t uncommon is the final action sequence, which basically boils down to stopping a MacGuffin at the top of a tall building (See The Avengers as another good example of this).  The fun with different gravity aspect gave the thing a different spin, but in the end it was Kirk and Krall punching each other.  As I said, this isn’t uncommon for action movies, but do we really need to end all Star Trek movies this way.  The last four films going back to Star Trek: Nemesis have all ended with a race to stop some kind of super-weapon.  There are other ways to make a successful Star Trek film.  Star Trek IV, which I mentioned earlier, is one of the most financially successful of the series, and the only time a weapon is fired in the movie, it is to melt a door lock.  There isn’t even a villain as such.  I don’t know if a studio in this day and age would approve a film like that, particularly since the newer Trek films are competing as massively budgeted blockbusters.  Star Trek IV cost $21 million, which even with inflation is only about $45 million today.  Beyond, meanwhile, was budgeted at $185 million.  Don’t get me wrong.  Action is fine.  And I actually really liked the final ship battle sequence, Beastie Boys and all.  Star Trek can be more, though.  I suppose I will have the new series to give me other types of stories because the movies are likely to remain in the action mold.

As a side note, since I’m talking about the action, the entire sequence inside the saucer of the crashed Enterprise was almost impossible to follow.  Maybe it was just the theater where I saw it, but the sequence was too dark to see what was actually happening.

And since I brought that up, my final issue is that THEY DESTROYED THE ENTERPRISE!!!

Ahem.  Sorry.  I know I’ve been complaining about the possibility of this ever since the first trailer was released, but I really did not want that to happen.  I wanted to get to know the ship in this film.  Not watch it get wiped out!  That said, this sequence is handled very well and hurts even if we don’t know this Enterprise as well as we should.  I tried to imagine what it would have been like seeing this happen to the original series Enterprise, and that pain is more than I really want to contemplate. 

What really bothered me more than the ship’s destruction, though, is how meaningless it all ends up being by the end of the film when the crew is given an identical ship that they just slapped an “A” on.  “But that’s what happened in the original films!” I hear you cry.  At a very basic level, sure.  But, as with most things, it’s all about execution.  In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the Enterprise suffers a great deal of battle damage, and, at the beginning of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Kirk and crew learn that the ship is going to be decommissioned.  After that, the Enterprise officers steal the ship in order to rescue Spock for the Genesis planet, which leads to a run-in with a Klingon Bird of Prey.  Kirk is forced to self-destruct the ship in a sequence that it still rough for me to watch.  The officers end up stealing the Bird of Prey and using it for the rest of Star Trek III and almost all of Star Trek IV.  They get a new Enterprise at the end of that film, which does indeed look just like the last one with an “A” slapped onto it.  However, before that there’s uncertainty about what kind of ship they will get, or if they will get one at all, since they are on trial for stealing the previous Enterprise.  There’s a journey to get to the new ship.  In Beyond, it’s more like “You lost your last ship?  No big deal.  Here’s another one.” 

All of these quibbles are relatively minor, though.  As I said at the outset of this, I enjoyed the film quite a bit.  I would happily see it again and will definitely be buying it when it is released on blu ray.  I also recommend Star Trek Beyond without reservations.  It’s a fun two hours at the movies and nice celebration of these characters for the 50th anniversary of Star Trek

Go see it!!!

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter