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rembrandtswife:

The latest issue of The Living Church, an Episcopal magazine, has a review of Star Trek Into Darkness entitled “The Ethics of Doctor Spock”.

CHURCH I AM DISAPPOINT

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  1. The Soprano Wore Falsettos by Mark Schweizer
  2. The Bass Wore Scales by Mark Schweizer
  3. The Mezzo Wore Mink by Mark Schweizer
  4. Star Trek Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions by David Mack
  5. Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Fearful Symmetry by Olivia Woods
  6. The Old Sod: The Odd Life and Inner Work of William G. Gray by Marcus Claridge & Alan Richardson
  7. Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Soul Key by Olivia Woods
  8. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

I continue to work my way through Mark Schweizer’s hilarious Liturgical Mysteries series. If you are a church musician or an Episcopalian, and especially if you happen to be both, these books will make you laugh out loud because everything wacky and insane about them is not only truth but fact. Add in the deliberately bad homages to Raymond Chandler, and what’s not to love?

I started reading Star Trek professional tie-in novels when they first began to appear in the 1980s. That era produced some incredibly creative expansions of the Original Series universe, notably Diane Duane’s Rihannsu series and John M. Ford’s two brilliant, unforgettable efforts, The Final Reflection and How Much for Just the Planet? Now that I’ve watched the entirety of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, I am really enjoying the novels that continue the storyline of the series and interweave the DS9 characters and canon with the Next Generation and Voyager. Sisko, Kira, Quark, and the rest continue to engage my heart and mind.

I am ashamed to admit, however, that until this very instance, I had never read any Sherlock Holmes. Yes, you may scold me. I’m not sure how I missed him. Come to think of it, I haven’t read any of Conan Doyle’s non-Holmes fiction, either. My acquaintance with Holmes, outside of a general acquaintance such as a non-Trekkie might have with Star Trek, only goes back five years or so, when my local PBS station began re-running the excellent Granada Television series starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes. For a while, Tuesday nights meant Holmes followed by Poirot–a soothing evening of period costumes, period furniture, and crack acting.

I am agreeably surprised at how readable and engaging A Study in Scarlet is. (Yes, you may scold me again.) ACD knew how to draw a reader in, that’s for sure. It is positively restful to the brain to read something by a writer who had never been told not to use adverbs or to avoid all dialogue tags except “he said”. It was also interesting to see the architecture behind the new BBC Sherlock episode “A Study in Pink” and observe what Moffat & Gatiss cut, what they kept, and how they transformed it.

And I have just bought a Kindle edition of the works of H. Rider Haggard. Heigh-ho for Victorian authors!

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Things I am serious about:

  • religion
  • books
  • music
  • birds
  • writing
  • marriage

Things I am not serious about but I love them:

  • Star Trek in all its forms and variation. My favorite series are the cheesy campy Original and Deep Space Nine, which boldly went into issues of religion where no Trek had gone before.
  • Doctor Who. I was mad about Tom Baker before David Tennant was even born; I’ve seen all of the current series and huge chunks of the original.
  • The BBC’s Merlin. Swords, pretty boys handsome men, and John Hurt as the voice of a snarky, cranky CGI dragon. Oh my.

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I present two videos in honor of Captain Picard Day!

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Current Reading

  • The Forge of Tubal Cain by Ann Finnin
  • The Roebuck in the Thicket by Evan John Jones, Robert Cochrane, and Michael Howard
  • The Passion of Mary Magdalene by Elizabeth Cunningham
  • Kissing the Limitless by Thorn Coyle

Current Viewing

  • David Suchet as Poirot
  • Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwick
  • Deep Space Nine, season five
  • Bones, current episodes
  • Batman Beyond, season one
  • Secrets of the Dead
  • American Experience
  • Nova

Current Listening

  • medieval and troubadour stuff, principally Ensemble Unicorn
  • Wanda Landowska playing Bach
  • Brazilian stuff on Last.fm courtesy of my husband
  • blues on Pandora, right now

Current Practice

  • New Hermetics Grounding & Centering
  • Middle Pillar
  • sitting meditation
  • defining goals
  • pore breathing with sunshine (when the sun is visible)

Special Mention

  • the “Trials and Tribble-ations” episode of Deep Space Nine. Conceived as their thirtieth-anniversary tribute to Trek, this episode sent the main cast back in time to the Kirk era to prevent Arne Darvin, Klingon spy, from enhancing his sabotage of the grain on Deep Space Station K-7 with a bomb emplanted in one of the tribbles.  The actors slid into those kicky ’60s uniforms and hair-do’s (Dax got a beehive) and wandered around going, “Wow, we’re on the Enterprise!”  The tech crew seamlessly interwove new footage with the original episode and digitally inserted new actors into old scenes, so that Dax gets to check out Spock’s ass and say he’s even handsomer in person, and O’Brien and Bashir join the line-up of crewmembers getting chewed out by Kirk after the brawl with the Klingons.  It’s a wonderfully funny ep that unashamedly loves the original show.
  • Pandora Radio.  I know this makes me terminally uncool, but I have much better luck getting Pandora to play me music I like than I do with Last.fm.
  • I am completely addicted to my weekly doses of Poirot and Holmes.  If I had discovered Jeremy Brett as a teenager, I would have been *so* hot for him.
  • the Middle Ages.  Yes, they had no sanitation, lots of emphasis on sin in their religion, wars, plagues, etc.  But they also had brilliant colors, spiritual joy, and bawdy songs.  In short, they knew how to party down.

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The_MummyPiqued by a reference on Bones, featuring an actual mummy and “Bones” Brennan naming the film as a childhood favorite that sparked her interest in forensic anthropology, we followed our Halloween viewing of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! with the original The Mummy with Boris Karloff through Netflix, in glorious black and white. What a great movie, and what a fascinating fellow Karloff was! Despite some hilarious archaeological gaffs in the beginning (people handling fragments of stone and ancient scrolls of papyrus with their bare hands), the film has lots of creep factor, lots of tension, and some fairly authentic-looking reproductions of ancient Egyptian artifacts, plus a nifty Egyptian laborers’ work song that had John and me rocking out. *g* Karloff, who was tall and slim but not freakishly tall or massive, has one of those long, angular faces that lends itself to makeup and prosthesis, rather like Ron Perlman these days. Despite his many gruesome roles, in private life he was a gentle man and a gentleman, too, a hard-working actor who was forty-four when he found his breakout role as James Whale’s monster in Frankenstein, fifty-one before he became a father. I’d like to see Frankenstein now; it’s one of many films I caught bits of on broadcast tv as a child but have probably never watched all the way through.

Watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! is a yearly ritual for me, and I never get tired of those alto flute solos, or of the World War I Flying Ace’s battle with the Red Baron and his trek through the French countryside. In my memory that sequence goes on for hours, moody landscapes and the haunting flute part. I said to John that that was probably the first glimpse I had of what the shakuhachi tradition tries to do, the flute as an instrument of spirit, an embodiment of Spirit through the breath.

Our public television station favored us over the past two weekends with the Jeremy Brett version of “The Sign of Four”. I have never been a Holmes fan before, but now I’m completely enthralled with the Brett series, and also with David Suchet’s Poirot. “The Sign of Four” is a more complex story than the usual 45-minute episode, with lots of exterior shots and lots of obvious if beautiful matte paintings for backgrounds, rather like Original Trek. The final exchange of dialogue is just a killer: “What an attractive woman,” says Watson, rather wistfully. (Yes, and young enough to be your daughter, John!) Holmes, collapsed on a narrow bed with limbs sprawled out, replies, “Was she? I hadn’t noticed.” Oh, Sherlock.

Meanwhile, we have finished season four of Deep Space Nine, with Odo’s shocking punishment by his people and Salome Jens’ amazing authority and confidence as the female Founder, and have season five on tap and the first season of the animated series Batman Beyond. We also viewed Mask of the Phantasm again, and yes, I still think it’s an enormously better movie than either of those with Christian Bale, and it’s also the only movie to give Bruce Wayne a compelling love interest–a smart, sexy redhead with some martial arts training. Bruce likes a woman who can trip him over her hip. *g*

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I’m improvising a little soup to eat before I go out for an evening choir rehearsal: a can of mixed vegetables, some beef bouillon cubes, a handful of rice, and some spices.  I don’t know how good it will be, but it will be hot, reasonably nourishing, and slightly creative.  Thus this post.

I understand there are people who write lots of blog material and then post it at their leisure.  I haven’t mastered the hang of that yet.  This blog post, like its predecessors, is coming to you live, as it were, struggling out of my mind and heart as Athena must have struggled before Hephaistos applied his handy axe.

Having gulped down a new novel by old favorite Robin McKinley in about a day and a half, I spent much of today skimming her earlier novel The Blue Sword, a story that never fails to make me happy.  I don’t think I’d ever realized before how very Jane-Austen-with-swords it is, as if Elizabeth Bennett or one of her sisters had run off to have adventures instead of settling for Mr. Darcy (with whom I remain unimpressed).   I’d much rather be Harry Crewe, the Homelander girl turned Lady Hero, than Elizabeth Bennett or any other Austen heroine.

They say the Druids of old studied for nineteen years and memorized everything, writing down none of their sacred lore though they used the Greek alphabet for mundane record-keeping and accounting.  I have an excellent memory for words, and some of my favorite novels, like The Blue Sword, are getting so old that they’re nearly falling apart.  I’ll either have to memorize them or eventually buy new copies, a shocking thought.

There’s a wonderful scene in any otherwise mediocre film called Reign of Fire, in which the earth is terrorized by flying dragons who burn and eat not just living flesh, but plants, stone, and all.  Christian Bale is the stoic Brit who keeps his people safe underground, defending an old castle; Matthew McConaughey plays the arrogant American who is certain any foe can be defeated with good old American know-how.  In the film’s most memorable scene, Bale and his second in command settle the community’s children for the evening by acting out a story: the duel between a hero and the helmeted, harsh-breathing enemy who claims to be his father.  No names are named, not because the scriptwriters were attempting to hide the source of the motif, nor because the audience knows the story is about Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader without being told, but because the storytellers themselves have forgotten the names, the origin of the story, in the dark age brought on by the coming of the dragons.  Books and movies alike have been forgotten, but the stories have been remembered and are passed on.

Once when I was discussing this scene with a friend of mine, she opined that that small scene in a forgettable movie contained more of the true spirit of the original Star Wars films than any of the subsequent prequels.  In a similar way, she offered, the movie GalaxyQuest, about a tired group of science fiction actors who get abducted by aliens who think they’re really galactic heroes and want their help, reincarnates the spirit of the original Star Trek more faithfully than its serious-minded sequels.  Star Trek dealt with a lot of serious themes, but it also had cheesy sets and daring costumes, and those things do a lot to keep a story alive.

Will Star Trek be part of the storytelling of the future, in a time when television has been forgotten?  What about Babylon 5, or Battlestar Galactica?  Will Barack Obama, the first black man elected President of the United States, be a folk hero to future generations, a new John Henry, or perhaps a new King Arthur?  I don’t have any answer to those questions, of course; none of us does.  But I do know that whatever stories we want to persist, to be told by our grandchildren’s grandchildren and beyond, whatever those stories are, we had better start telling them now.

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