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Archive for the 'Family' Category


2009.05.11 Star Trek the New Old Generation:

I loved the new Star Trek. Let's just get that out of the way at the beginning, then continue.

I am a huge Trek fan, from way back (not WAY way back, like the 60's way back, but way back, like from the 80's). I used to watch Original Series reruns on TV as a kid (in the 70's), I went to see the first Star Trek movie in the theater (not that I really remember it, but my parents have reminded me), then stopped watching Star Trek altogether when Wrath of Khan came out because the little brain-worm-things scared the shit out of me. I got back into it when Next Gen started, and just went nuts over it. You ask me how dilithium crystals work in a warp drive, and I can probably give you an explanation without doing any research.

There are tons of reasons why I enjoyed the original series (and Next Gen, and DS9, and occasionally Enterprise), and I'd love to tell you that it was because of the hopeful and optimistic vision of the future, and the way it portrayed humanity as having overcome greed and prejudice and having dedicated themselves as a race to bettering themselves and fighting the just and righteous fight for freedom and cooperation. But really, I loved it because of the characters. The sometimes quirky, sometimes absurd, sometimes hyper-real, sometimes bizarrely unrealistic characters and relationships that populated the show. I loved it because of the stories, and the campy humor, and the glorious over-acting. And, I loved it because it sometimes asked deep philosophical questions, and other times it paraded around in front of you wearing a Nazi uniform. I don't think I really grasped the historical, philosophical, and sociological ramifications of the Trek universe until later.

But, we're here to talk about the new Star Trek movie, aren't we?

Taken on its own merits, I think this is a phenomenal movie. There are issues of science and issues of execution of course, but overall it is exciting, and fun, and touching, and very Star Trek in lots of the right ways.

I think Chris Pine made a great Kirk. All the characters were written (and directed, I assume) somewhat… over-the-top, and very earnest. I felt that, though Pine also suffered this, he had a presence and subtlety that really befitted the character, and that I can see serving him very well in subsequent outings. There was at least one scene (and I've been trying to remember exactly where it occurred, but nevertheless) where I remember thinking to myself… "There's Kirk. That's Kirk. That was right on." And I think it was just a single word, or very short line, delivered with a certain mixture of joy and self-awareness that I think captured the spirit of "The Kirk," and channeled a bit of the old Shatner magic. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed this new Kirk.

There were certain Kirk moments from a story/plot perspective and from a characterization perspective that I didn't like, but those would be difficult to elucidate without spoilage.

Quinto's Spock also had a lot to offer. Maybe he played it a little too close to the chest at times, and maybe he played it a little too "smirky" at times, but neither of those are entirely un-Spock-like qualities. I thought the father/son and the mother/son things were well written and well played, but I did feel that this Spock, somewhat interestingly, was representative of the Spock we came to understand over the last ~40 years, rather than the Spock we met in the first Original Series episode. Our Spock started out (well, after Where No Man Has Gone Before, anyway) as an emotionless, purely logical, and imperceptibly conflicted character who had very much chosen his Vulcan side over his Human one. That was not the Spock we got in this movie. In and of itself, that's not a bad thing, and I did really enjoy this Spock, but I also felt that this new Spock didn't represent where our Spock would have been at this point in his life. It didn't kill my enjoyment of the character, but it stood out to me as a point of unnecessary disunity.

Ultimately though, I thought Quinto's Spock was fantastic. He enabled you to become invested in the character very quickly, and he brought you along for the… yes, emotional ride through the rest of the movie.

The supporting cast was also varying degrees of good.

Karl Urban's doctor was good, but I felt that he was trying too hard to imitate the wonderful DeForest Kelley. I also felt that the writers did him a disservice by restricting his dialogue almost exclusively (I felt) to classic "Bones" catch-phrases. Dixon over at Shelfbound considered that this may simply be the way McCoy talks, which is an interesting thought, but one I don't necessarily agree with. McCoy (the "real" McCoy, you might say buh-doom-tsh!) had plenty of aphorisms and metaphors to go around, but his dialogue was never so heavy with catch-phrases. Ultimately, it's forgivable, but it was irksome.

As an aside, I absolutely adored the way they introduced McCoy's nickname. It was a bit awkward, perhaps, but I loved it.

Simon Pegg as Scotty was a real treat. The character was fun, and lively, and seemed to come off as both brilliant and moronic at the same time. I like Pegg, he's fun. Unfortunately, I never believed he was Scotty. Doohan's Scotty was brilliant but subdued, earthy but not offensive, and excitable but responsible. Pegg's Scotty was mystified, frenetic, and frequently out-of-his-depth. Also unfortunately, Scotty didn't get enough good screen-time to further establish the character. Perhaps there's more to him than this situation allowed to come through.

Uhura was good. Her character had strength, conviction, self-confidence, and power. It is a testament to the actress (and the writers as well) that they were able to establish this, because she was woefully lacking many really meaty scenes.

Sulu was also good, and I felt he fared a bit better than Uhura, scene-wise. He didn't try (unlike Urban) to mimic his predecessor, but inhabited the character he was given. I don't think that I ever really felt he was Sulu, but rather that he was some entirely separate character.

The Christopher Pike character was really great. I felt he got shortchanged in the leadership department in a few spots, but that ties into some movie-wide problems and more potential spoilage. Still, I really liked this character.

Finally, we get to Checkov. What to say… I did really enjoy his introductory moments in the movie, but ultimately I found his character to be very annoying. I also felt that this character was the farthest from the original source material. I won't go so far as to say I didn't like the new Checkov—because he was entertaining, to a point—but he's just not Checkov. However, maybe he is just another casualty of the way the characters were generally over-played. If he'd been more subdued, perhaps he would have fit perfectly. Who knows?

Well, I said "finally, we get to Checkov," but really, the Enterprise is the last (or first?) major character in the Original Series, and we should talk about her as well.

I really liked the new Starfleet ship exteriors, and felt they were true enough to the original. The bridge, on the other hand, was a different story. The old bridge was spacious, and austere but powerful, and it felt comfortable and open. This new bridge was bright, flashy, and claustrophobic. So much of the old Star Trek took place on the bridge—perhaps this is an indicator that the bridge will no longer be the central story-telling vantage point. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in future movies.

At last, we get to the story itself. As I mentioned, it was enjoyable and exciting. Unfortunately, I felt it was also, like most of the rest of the movie, a bit over-blown. It was as if they tried to make every single moment just as tense and dramatic as possible—tried to give the story as much weight as it could possibly carry. The good thing is that it delivered. The question is, is that a good thing? Personally, I prefer my Star Trek a little more cerebral, and a little less "wagon train." Maybe that's the Next Gen era initiate in me, I dunno. I just think there's a line between sci-fi action/thriller and sci-fi action/drama that this movie played too often on the wrong side of.

At this point, I'm not sure how much more i can say without really getting into specifics of plot. I definitely have more thoughts on specific aspects of the movie, and also generally about what it means that we now have this New old generation of characters.

As I've mentioned in other venues, to other people, I loved it, but I also hated it.

- 02:30 am - PL :: 2 Comments
categories ::  Cool Links - Family - Friends - Happy/Love - Movies - Nostalgia - Pop Culture - TV - Upset/Dislike

 

2009.04.10 identity crisis*:

* "Crisis" is definitely overstating it a bit, but nevertheless…

Earlier tonight, I told an old friend that "I couldn't be happier with where my life has led," and, of course, that is true. What i've been struggling with the last few years has been the "where."

In high school, i wanted nothing more than to start my own business, be my own boss, stay in the hick town where I grew up and be a "computer consultant" (whatever the hell that means.) I knew that I would a) be awesome at it, and b) be totally happy with my life. Instead—when i realized my father's brain would melt and my mother's heart would flop right out of her chest if I didn't—i went to college.

In college, i met some awesome creative people, broke out of my mold, and made sweeping plans for taking over the world with the most profound art, music, and literature the world had ever seen, together with this band of misfit geniuses in whom I'd found a family.

Then the 'net happened and I found another niche. I was going to carry this empire of sight, sound, and word into the year 2000, and become the best damned webmaster this side of the Mississippi. I was going to shift paradigms, set trends, and lead the denizens of the 'net to the next level. Not that I could see what that next level was yet, but that was my plan.

Luckily, I landed a job that let me do the only thing that I'd really want to sit still long enough to get paid for. Unfortunately, i discovered that it wasn't always possible to innovate on a deadline, for the kind of clients a high priced web firm dealt with. That, and I didn't have the base skills to really push the envelope. I was, after all, entirely self-taught.

As technology progressed, I collected plans and hoarded them for "when I had time." My work, psycho ex-girlfriends, the internet, and my plans themselves sapped my energy to the point where little got done. Occasionally, I'd have a burst of activity, and accomplish something neat, or push a pet project a little farther up the hill. Then I'd go back to the news feeds, or the game of Dune, or whatever.

I was going to be a first-rate poet, the next Kerouac, a top notch photographer, a musician, a publisher, a record producer, a freelance web guru, a gallery owner, a coffee shop owner… the list goes on.

It's taken me a few years, but slowly, I've realized that I can't do it all. And those grandiose plans I made years ago—the empire I built on dreams—depended on that family of friends as a static, unchanging unit with infinite reserves of energy and patience. To meet my dreams, my friends would have had to stay just as they were.

What I've come to realize is not that I can't count on my friends (because I know they'll support me in whatever I choose to do), but just that my friends have their own lives, and plans, and dreams. I can't package them up into mine, any more than they can package me up into theirs.

So I have been converging on this point, where I have to figure out two things: what I want to do, and what I can do. With all these grandiose plans I've made, which are the feasible, workable notions, and which are the pipe dreams?

These were the thoughts that, late last year, and early this year, brought me to re-dedicate myself to my writing. I still have lots of plans, little things I'd like to do, but, when push comes to shove, my writing comes first. Someday, perhaps I'll be able to expand my arena again, but right now, I have to seize my opportunities and focus on a smaller set of goals.

To a certain extent, the old Coffeemonk Design Flaws empire is seeing a sunset. The name "Coffeemonk Design Flaws" was always Bob's thing anyway, and without his participation, it has long felt hollow.

I'm still working out the details in my head, but very likely, coffeemonk.com will become my writing oriented blog, and Savant-Garde Press will finally emerge from it's long stasis to stand on it's own. I'm also planning to launch a personal blog at matt.rasnake.info (eventually), and will continue to maintain bipolar as well.

This, then, is not as much an identity crisis, as it is an identity acknowledgement. This is the happiness to which my life has led me…

2008.06.17 the long way home:

Hard to believe it's been well over a year since my last post here. In that last post, I promised I'd tell my brother's story when the time was right, but now I'm not convinced there ever will be a right time. I had hoped to get Javan to write something for me, but he got a surprise opportunity to sail the high seas as a midshipman on a british frigate before I could gently pester him. In lieu of that, I'll fall back to a message that he posted two days after the terrible attacks at Virginia Tech.

On 16 April 2007, Cadet Matthew Joseph La Porte was fatally wounded while actively resisting an armed attacker. In an act of total selflessness and extreme valor, Cadet La Porte threw himself in the line of fire between the gunman and several endangered civilians, and began to fight the attacker hand-to-hand before being mortally wounded by handgun fire. La Porte died a hero, and indeed, showed us all the true meaning of "deeds not words."

As many of you know, Matt was my best friend on this campus. I was lucky enough to spend many hours with him on his last full day on this earth, and both of his last two meals, the two of us had together. His last meal was Burger King, a whopper, king-size fry, and king-size cherry lime slushie. He was still hungry afterwards.

A year later, and the wounds are still fresh. I don't want to take this post too far, because ultimately it's my brother's loss to deal with in his own way, but I did want to take a moment to honor his friend. I'm sure Javan's had enough of public platitudes, but I would appreciate, if you think of him, to send some mental goodwill his way.

Matt La Porte bio at New York Times.

- 03:44 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Family

 

2007.03.27 of old friends, avail:

wherein your humble narrator again laments the inevitability of social distance

the wife and i had the pleasure this evening of hanging out with a few old friends, one of whom has recently embarked on a new life adventure in LA la land. again i was reminded of why it is i've chosen these people as close friends, and again i've had some nostalgic pangs for the times when i could just walk into the next room to enjoy wit, share an anecdote, or request advice. i realize, of course, that i've traded up—for someone with whom i can share many of the same things (along with many other things besides–not all of them "dirty", you cretins)

now all my closest friends but one are married (and he's probably not far off), and that has a way of cramping the social style, especially when you get doctors, near-doctors, students, and parents in the mix. schedules are hard enough to work around when you're just you. when there're two of you to consider, well, it quickly spirals out of control. work time, me time, us time, we time… we time nearly always gets the shaft in that arrangement.

i know that there's not a lot that any of us can do about it, so until we're able to be more proactive about it, i'm just planning on enjoying the infrequent times i get with my friends, and looking forward to the times that i can be reminded why i liked them so much in the first place.

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- 10:51 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Family - Friends - Happy/Love - Local/Louisville - Nostalgia - Society - Wife

 

2006.12.27 wish i never got old:

Ahhh…the year-end wrap-up. Where to start? To be honest, most of the shit that happened to me I didn't post about. Why have I been maintaining radio silence? Who knows?

I finally joined the rest of the web-using world and started utilizing digg. I even dugg a post I posted here. Oh…I'm such a whore.

Today I'm bemoaning the fact that we're not a more regularly updated, noticed "blog." I mean…they could have sent us a couple of these, for fucksake.

I've spent an inordinate amount of time listening to Neil Young, lately. Mostly Crazy Horse material. It's speaking to the parts of the brain Brooksie and I have started activating for the new band. Speaking of the new band, it's tentatively titled "Birth Machine." We expect to rattle the foundation of a local venue this spring.

I guess the biggest news of the season is that i had to have Clyde put to sleep (the Thursday before Christmas; it made the holiday even more fun). Some of you long-time readers (if there's any left) will remember Clyde as my beloved cat of the past decade. She had a tumor on her chest that spread to her lungs. Toward the end she was having trouble breathing and would only eat fresh turkey and "catmilk" (speaking of which, I have two things of that stuff left, if anyone needs/wants it), which made us think it was all just some elaborate scam on her part. Regardless, we couldn't take it anymore and took her back to the vet. He gave us the dire news and we all endured a bit of pre-holiday heartbreak.
Needless to say, she's incredibly missed.

Clyde – 1996-2006

2006.08.16 like a steam engine, running low on coal:

well, brian's hopped back in the saddle, while i've been slacking. i suppose that's about right.

my buddy paul finally got himself hitched to his wonderful lady and our former roommate allison. It was a very nice, simple ceremony, followed by a pretty kickin' reception. they had a live jazz band that was just superb, and paul and neil got up and serenaded the new bride in patented old man style. my wife and i managed to get several good shots, which i've put up in the gallery.

our summer of weddings is now over (a brief reprieve), and we've two more friends' weddings left this year (that I can remember), but i think they both fall on the same day, so we'll unfortunately most likely have to miss the one that sara's not a bridesmaid in.

the remaining major news is that i whipped together a site for my friends that i'm particularly proud of, for organizing a monthly movie night. i'd link to it, but it's really by invitation only, and there are currently no safeguards to prevent uninvited users from signing up. (scribbles on todo list) so, suffice to say, it's really cool, and i'll post a link to it in the future when i've got it somewhat protected.

oh, and my 1 year anniversary at work has just come and gone, and i'm still thrilled to be where i am. i only hope that sara gets a residency in town (or within reasonable commuting distance) so i don't have to test the loyalty of my company in a long-distance employment situation. i'm fairly certain we can work something out (the company and i), but i'd certainly prefer not to risk it.

- 05:03 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Computers/Tech - Family - Friends - Happy/Love - Personal Projects - Photography - Wife - Work

 

2006.05.22 joyeux anniversaire:

it seems almost inconceivable, but today marks the sixth anniversary of the first post on bipolar. of course, that post was pretty much just a test post, but no matter. and it's also not to say that bipolar has enjoyed much life in the last year. out of the last 10 months, it seems i've only successfully posted in three of them. brian has fared a little better, posting in four out of the last 10 months.

i suppose this is one of the reasons why blogging has gone the way it's gone… the only people who can effectively keep it going are the ones who are getting paid for it.

nevertheless, brian and i are still here, still putting up stuff when we can find time to do it.

now, in honor of our anniversary, and anniversary posts past (which, on review, I've realized were fewer and farther between than I'd have hoped) here's a brief recap:

a few things I didn't mention, or barely mentioned were the births of my goddaughter?sara's niece emma?and my first nephew, reuben. of course, now I have four nieces and a nephew, and they are all uniquely adorable.

sara's almost finished her third year of med school, and is looking forward to getting a greater concentration in her chosen field of pediatrics here in the upcoming fourth year.

lastly, a large chunk of my friends, those from the core murray group, are finally getting themselves married off. brax this past month, and nate and the puffin in very short order.

six years covers a lot of ground in the lives of 20 somethings to 30 somethings. i do wish i could have chronichled more of the last year, but i suppose it's better to live a life you've no time to write about, than to have tons of time to write about the life you wish you had. six years has seen me go from a time of insecurity (personally, financially, professionally), to the complete opposite. I've gone from waiting for my life to get started, to realizing that it already has. and even better than that, I'm happy.

2006.05.05 life is unreality:

things are starting to settle down now, but for a week or so there, i felt like i was living in an alternate reality.

Reuben Smilessara and i took our little vacation to d.c. to visit my sister and her family. it was a good time, and it was awesome to finally meet reuben, even though he's still too little to do much more than cry, eat, smile, and look around a lot. of course, i spent most of my time trying to get him to smile. at least partly because if he was smiling, he wasn't crying. sara and i got to babysit a couple days, so it was nice to get that much time with him.

me and emmaemma (2, and cute as a button) has day care, so we didn't get to spend as much time with her. of course, she's also more interactive, so our time with her was more fun. she sings random songs, sometimes real songs, sometimes made up. she speaks very well in complete sentences, but she sometimes goes off on a tangent in emmish. i sometimes wonder if she's not going to be totally screwed up because her mother speaks five languages (though obviously not all at once.)

it was awesome to get to spend so much time with them, and of course, to get a vacation from work, life, and all that jazz. we didn't do much sightseeing, but mainly hung around their house enjoying the fact that we didn't have to work.

things really took a turn to the surreal when, not 10 minutes after getting home after our flight back, we were driving to the car dealership to pick up sara's new car. it's a long story how we got to the decision to get her a new car, but suffice it to say we thought it the best option. so, we fly into town, buy her car, then spend the next several hours (of the same night) attempting to teach her how to drive a manual… well, that, and trying to assuage her fears about never being able to figure it out.

to really keep the financial chaos meter buried in the red, the next day i went in to sign the paperwork for a loan to buy out the lease on my car. combine these with some of the other financial goings-on, and i was really feeling there for a while that i was just dragging home fat sacks of cash and tossing them down a sinkhole in my backyard.

things have stabilized now, and i'm not feeling like some kind of body snatcher pod person; but man all this "real life" stuff gets to be a little much at times, doesn't it?

after all this, and since our friend lori's baby shower didn't quite come to fruition, we ended up going up to my parent's farm (formerly grandma's farm) in virginia. my grandma's feeling much better, and is back home again, though she has to get dialysis 3 times a week. it was really awesome to see her looking like her normal self again, and i was glad that we had the opportunity to visit now that she's feeling better. also, my sis and her family were all going to be there, so this was another good opportunity to see them one last time (most likely) before they fly off to the other side of the world.

grandma and reubenit was a great visit. probably the most difficult thing was watching my grandma with reuben when they were about to leave. i can only imagine what she was thinking, but i know her hands were trembling and she was trying not to cry. i hope reuben gets the opportunity to see his great-grandma again, but if that's not possible, i hope some subconscious part of him remembers that moment.

as much as i might have rebelled against them, as much as i struggled for the independence and individual identity that i value without regrets, i love my family. even though i never see, and feel disconnected from my family on dad's side, i love them too. from my point of view, the three most important things in the world are family, friends, and self(-identity,-sufficiency,-responsibility,-worth). each of us is a nexus of those three things, fed by and providing for them.

well, i don't really want to get off on some philosophical tanget, so i'll just stop there. nevertheless, family = important.
also important is communication, which i think i've done just about enough of for this post. in closing, i'll just leave you with a link to the gallery with the latest photos concerning recent events.

- 03:30 pm - PL :: 4 Comments
categories ::  Family - Happy/Love - Travel

 

2006.04.20 catching up is hard to do:

so, now that all that boring relaunch related stuff is out of the way, it's high time I sit down for a real post?the obligatory "catch-up" post.

when we last spoke, i was hot in the middle of procrastinating on my novel for National Novel Writing Month, particularly by brushing down this old horse. now, we've gone all the way through winter and come out the other side, the spring storms are tearing at our shutters, and the grass is growing faster than I can push the lawn mower.

on the plus side, we've got central heat & air installed in our little home now, so I'm not going to have to drag out those loud obnoxious window units. of course, this just means that now we'll have to bicker about temperature more, since we no longer have room-by-room control?no big deal.

Emma throws rocksthe next exciting thing on our schedule is a trip to DC?we'll be heading up there to visit our new nephew (and the rest of his family) for a few days. i've said this to a few people before, but i'll say it here again… it's so strange that little Reuben hardly seems real to me at this point. when Emma was born, my sister & bro-in-law took pictures of her daily, and sent digests weekly via email, so i was intimately connected?at least through pictures?with her growth and development. she seemed real to me even before I met her.

with Reuben, it's different. Sara and Andrew haven't been taking pictures daily, or at least not sending them out weekly if they have. maybe because they're now living in the states, they feel the need is lessened, but his family is still in NZ, so it'd still be important. maybe because they're both much busier than they were when Emma was born?both working, trying to raise two kids now instead of just one. but for whatever reason, lack of evidence, lack of contact, whatever, the new kid just seems more like an idea than an actual physical entity. this is, of course, why we're so excited that we get to go to DC to finally meet him.

Reuben and Emmaand even more important, this could be our only chance to see him (and the rest of the family) for several years. with sis (and possibly bro-in-law) going into the foreign service, they might be out of the country pretty-much until they retire. obviously, they'll visit us and we'll visit them, but those opportunities will be few and far between.

i may have gotten used to seeing my sister (and her new family) only infrequently over the last 10 years or so, but that doesn't mean i have to like it.

- 12:13 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Family - Happy/Love - Travel

 

2005.07.06 now, back to your previously scheduled reality:

as you might have guessed, there's been so much going on in my world of late, i can hardly keep my head on straight, much less figure out what to write about. first and most importantly, the wedding was awesome, and married life thus far has been challenging, interesting, enjoyable, and fun (not necessarily in that order). to read more about the wedding itself, check the last post on the wedding website.

after the honeymoon (which we both enjoyed the hell out of and wished never to return from), we've been busy trying to dig ourselves out from under all the crap that got piled into our house the following week–mainly wedding presents, but also all her stuff when we finally got her (almost completely) moved in. things are settling out, finding their places, and we're getting the house in order (have i typed/said this a million times already? it sure seems that way… oh well, i'm nothing if not consistent) i've been too busy and distracted the last few months and in the weeks since the wedding to even really think about getting a bunch of pictures online, but i did manage a few of the simpler smaller sets. wedding/honeymoon pics will follow as soon as i can get them whipped into shape.

one set i did manage to get online are the ones of our new kittens! artemis and apollo are about as cute as kittens can be, but ari was a bit sick the first few days… we're still having to give her some anti-biotics, but i think she's feeling much better. of course, they're both turning out to be little shits, running around like crazy, knocking stuff over, scratching the shower curtain… y'know being kittens, essentially. we're trying to "train" them, but as you'd expect, it's hard to control them when you're not home–they tend to do whatever they like, which usually involves something potentially destructive.

the other gallery i got up was some of the pics from my new phonecam.

generally, things are great, and we're gearing up for our first big party this weekend–something i've been itching for for quite some time.

- 05:07 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Family - Friends - Happy/Love - Love Life - Travel - Wedding - Wife

 


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