RSS

Category Archives: Popular Culture

Confessions of a Trekkie

In my last post I discussed my interest in the pop culture phenomenon that is Star Trek. With 11 films grossing over $1 Billion, six TV series with over 700 total episodes, plus dozens of novels, books on tape, fan fiction and merchandise, the 40+ year franchise is alive and strong.

Here are a few reasons why I like Star Trek:

1. Science  – I love astronomy. Stars. Planets. Moos. Nebulae. Black Holes. It’s all very cool. I have always been fascinated by the natural world and the universe. Many of the plots of Star Trek shows are very scientific. Yes, there’s a lot of science fiction there too, but it’s fun to have a show at least loosely based on real science.

2. Technology – From extremely advanced medical innovations to traveling at “warp” speed to transporter technology (i.e. “beam me up”), technology on Star Trek has always fascinated me. Imagine being able to cure a fatal disease with a simple medical tri-corder or being able to travel faster than the speed of light to visit new parts of the galaxy. What would transporter technology do to our society if it were real. Can you imagine “beaming” to Hawaii for an afternoon on the beach? And some technology seems to have become a reality — wireless flip phones…

3. Exploration – I am a very curious person. I want to learn everything I can about many different subjects. The idea of having a starship whose primary purpose is to expand knowledge is quite appealing. Plus, I love to explore new areas. And while my day to day exploration may be limited to trying out a different jogging trail from time to time, I have a lot of wanderlust and I love seeing new places. Star Trek takes me to places that I cannot go (yes, they’re fictional places, but they are still very fun to visit.)

4. Optimism – The Star Trek universe provides a very optimistic vision of the future. In this vision of the 24th Century, mankind has overcome war and poverty. Disease has largely been eradicated and the entire planet is united in peace and prosperity. Exploration of the universe and mutually beneficial relationships with other lifeforms are prized above all else.

5. Oh, and I also like the action, the explosions, the fights, the villians, etc. I don’t care much for Klingons but I love the Borg, and I really like the Harogens, a brutal space-faring species that harvests organs from weaker lifeforms (as seen in episodes of the series Star Trek Voyager). Nothing like a good monster/villian for good entertainment.

Anyway, that’s what I like about Star Trek. I’ll continue to watch it, but don’t worry, I won’t be buying any pointy ears anytime soon.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 15, 2009 in Popular Culture

 

Great Trekspectations

Okay, so I stole that headline from the Deseret News which reviewed the new Star Trek movie, but it described my great interest in and excitement for the new film.

star_trek_03_1024

There are only a few movies that I see in the nice theaters (I usually wait for the dollar theater or DVD) and even fewer that I HAVE to see on opening night. But Star Trek is one of them.

I admit it. I’m a fan. I have never been to a convention and do not own any pointy ears, Star Trek uniforms or phasers.  But I have watched all 10 previous Star Trek movies at least twice each —  a few of them I have watched even more than that. I can even name all of their titles in order without looking it up:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn
Star Trek: The Search for Spock
Star Trek: The Voyage Home
Star Trek: The Final Frontier
Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek: Generations
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek: Insurrection
Star Trek: Nemesis

My favorites are “The Wrath of Kahn,” “The Voyage Home” (the one with the whales) and “First Contact” (the one with the Borg taking over the Enterprise). The worst were The Motion Picture and The Final Frontier. The rest were good, but not great.

I’ve watched a good number of episodes from the six television series, especially “The Next Generation” and “Voyager.” I never really got into Deep Space Nine or Enterprise. And, interestingly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a complete episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. So again, I guess I’m not what you’d consider a hard core fan. My favorite Trek series is Voyager. At first I thought it was really PC to have a woman captain, a Native American first officer and a black Vulcan security officer (or should I say African American Vulcan… but wait, if he’s Vulcan, how can he be American or African… I’m so confused). However, interesting story lines and good character development kept me coming back to Voyager. Robin enjoyed it too so we watched many episodes together back in the early 2000s.

I’ve been anticipating this latest film now for many years. The last Trek film was released in 2002 and didn’t get particularly good audience reception, so Star Trek has been on hiatus. Until now. The eleventh film titled simply “Star Trek” is a complete reboot of the franchise. Helmed by LOST creator J.J. Abrams, this new film boldly goes where Star Trek hasn’t gone before. And it left my wife Robin and me totally satisfied and looking forward to future sequels.

It was a fast-paced, action-packed thrill ride that has a universal appeal to both long-time fans and people who have never heard the Vulcan phrase, “Live long and prosper.” There was quite a bit of humor in the film and several references that paid homage to the other films and TV series which delighted fans but were subtle enough not to leave non-fans out of the fun. The actors were great and the special effects were spectacular without being overdone. (i.e. George Lucas in Star Wars Episodes I, II and III.) The film sets the stage for many more excellent adventures which we will look forward to watching.

So why do I like Star Trek? I will address that question in my next post, so stay tuned.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 10, 2009 in Popular Culture

 

Tags: , , , ,

Harry Potter and Star Trek Movies Postponed!

It’s off to summer school for Harry Potter; and the Starship Enterprise’s launch has been delayed for five months. Yes, two of my favorite items from pop culture, Harry Potter and Star Trek, were scheuled for release in November and December respectively. Now fans of the boy wizard will have to wait until July 2009 for “The Half-Blood Prince” and Trekkies will have to wait until May 2009 to see Kirk and Spock back in action on board the Enterprise. BUMMER! It’s all about Hollywood greed. These movies are certainly on schedule for their release dates, but due to the writer’s strike (remember that), there are a few open weekends next summer that were too tempting for the studios to resist. Since summer is the hottest and most lucrative time for movies, I guess they decided it made good business sense to release then! So they’ve been postponed to 2009.

Know what else has been postponed to 2009? Our house sale. Yep, after nearly five months on the market, we decided to take our house off the market until the housing market rebounds somewhat. We also want to be more sure of our financial footing (new job and all) before we take the plunge into a larger mortgage. On the day after our agent removed our listing, he got a call from an agent to “begged” him to ask us to show our house one more time. Okay, we said, maybe THIS will be the buyer we’ve been waiting for. So on Saturday, we spent the day cleaning, tidying, organizing and repairing the house (new closet doors, a few patches on the walls, new doorknob for the outside door, etc.) When the appointed hour came and left with no visitors and no rescheduling phone call, we sighed and decided that the time indeed isn’t right to sell our house just yet. So we’ll wait until next year for a new house and the “boy who lived” and the pointed eared guy who reminds us to “live long and prosper!”

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 25, 2008 in Popular Culture

 

Watching TV Online – Hulu Launches

Ten years ago, I you had told me that I would be watching TV on my computer, I would have said that you were crazy. However, over the past couple of weeks, that’s exactly what Robin and I have been doing. Instead of watching the typical stuff on regular TV, we’ve been choosing our own content by watching programs on demand on the Internet. Isn’t that crazy? Okay, we’ve actually only been watching one show — LOST. We’re two-thirds of the way through Season 3 and are trying to get caught up so that we can talk about it with our family members who are big fans.

The thing I like about legal online TV is that although you have to watch a few commercials, it’s usually only one commercial during the typical commercial break. The thing I like even more about it is that you can choose when you want to watch it and exactly which episode you want to watch. New technologies and broadband connections have made the loading time very short and the quality of the visual experience comparable to the TV. The only thing I don’t like is having to prop up my laptop on the coffee table and listen to the show through those wimpy speakers.

I am intrigued by the whole online entertainment movement. I recently read about a partnership with NBC and NewsCorp (FOX) that launched a new site yesterday call Hulu. Here’s an excerpt from the LA Times article I read:

“The online video service, which has been in test mode since October, launches with more than 250 television series, including current shows such as “The Office” and “The Simpsons” and classics such as “Arrested Development” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Hulu also provides 100 free, feature-length films, including “The Big Lebowski,” “Me, Myself & Irene” and “Some Like It Hot,” along with short video clips from 150 television series including “Saturday Night Live” and “In Living Color.”

Hulu seeks to satiate the growing appetite for online video. More than half of all Americans — and about four out of five U.S. Internet users — watch online video at least once a month, according to a February report from research firm EMarketer Inc. One in four had viewed full-length television episodes within the last three months, according to Nielsen Media Research.”

If you want to take a look, just go to http://www.hulu.com/.

It will be interesting to see how this and other technologies changes how we consume entertainment and media. I already get most of my news and information from the Internet. I admit that I rarely watch the local or national TV news, and even more rarely do I pick up a newspaper. I can get most, if not all, of the same content on the web. When I got home from my mission 12 years ago, I had never even heard of the World Wide Web or email. Now it’s a ubiquitous part of my life. If I had to choose between my satellite TV and broadband Internet, I think I would choose the latter. It’s just so incredibly useful. And yet, it can be incredibly destructive if not used properly.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 13, 2008 in Popular Culture, Technology

 

Addicted to “Lost”

lost.jpg 

For years, my brother Aaron has been trying to get me addicted to the TV show Lost. I resisted his attempts to get me hooked because I was busy with graduate school and didn’t really understand the appeal of a show about a bunch of people stranded on an island.

Well, I finished my MBA about six months ago and my wife got me into Heroes,which I came to really enjoy. At Christmas, I told Aaron that he really needed to watch that show because I knew he’d love it. So we made a pact. He would watch Heroes if I would watch Lost. And we both got hooked.

It worked out especially well for me since I started from Season 1 during the writer’s strike, and now Robin and I are halfway through Season 2. We’re currently recording all the episodes of Season 4 on our DVR, but we won’t watch them until we’re caught up. We started in January with nearly 75 episodes of high-quality episodes, and now we’re about halfway through them. We’re watching them on ABC’s website and also renting the DVDs from Blockbuster. I have to say, it is worth the hype — it’s a very well-written, well-acted show that draws you in and really makes you want to keep watching.

And to be honest, while the stories about their experiences on this strange island are very interesting, the most fascinating part for me is the back stories on each of the characters. Each episode focuses on a different castaway and shows some compelling story that shaped them into becoming who they are. The back stories also always relate to the present situations, so there’s good continuity there. And the storytelling is excellent — I actually really care about these fictional characters. My favorites are Locke, Sawyer and Sayid. Hurley and Charlie are pretty cool too.

I’m sure I’ll be blogging more about this going forward. It’s nice to have some good-quality entertainment that Robin and I enjoy together. Harry Potter mania has now died down for me (until the next movie this Christmas) and “Heroes” Season 2 was cut to 11 episodes with Season 3 episodes not airing until the fall, so it’s great to get “Lost” in this show.

Note: If you haven’t watched Lost before, DO NOT try to start mid-series. Robin and I tried that last year and we watched the first couple of episodes of Season 3. We were “lost” and didn’t really care about the characters because we didn’t start on the journey with them. So do yourself a favor — start from the beginning. You can watch them all for free in HD on ABC.com or you can rent the DVDs. It’s well worth the time and is much better than mindless chatter and crude jokes on late night talk shows!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on February 22, 2008 in Popular Culture

 

Half-blood Prince Begins Filming Today

Okay, it’s been a while since I blogged about Harry Potter. Indeed, the Harry Potter frenzy of July has died down (thankfully) and I can focus on reality once again! However, I did want to mention a few things.

I just finished listening to the audio recording of Book 7, and I have to say I enjoyed it the second time even more than the first time. I think that’s because I was consuming it at a more leisurely pace than when it first came out and I finished it within the first 48 hours of its release. I also REALLY enjoyed the performance of Jim Dale, the voice of the Harry Potter series on tape. I actually got the book on CD from the library and ripped all 17 disks to my iPod. Then I gave the CDs to my sister Amy to enjoy. I listened to the book while cleaning the house, mowing the lawn and jogging, and finished the book with a great sense of satisfaction. Once I finished, I deleted the audio files so as not to infringe on copyright. 🙂

Here are a couple of other bits of information I thought I’d share. According to the fan websites, the “Half-blood Prince” begins filming today (Monday, September 17). And who’s playing the part of Horrace Slughorn? His name is Jim Broadbent. He’s most famous for his role as Harold Zilder on Moulin Rouge and the Professor on the Chronicles of Narnia. He’s also in the new Indiana Jones movie (see my post below).

jim-broadbent.jpg

Anyway, I think he’ll be perfect in this movie, which is set to release on November 21, 2008. It will just add to the success of the Harry Potter phenomenon. Aside from the amazing success of the books, the Harry Potter film franchise has now become the most successful film franchise of all time, eclipsing the box office totals of all 21 Bond films and the six “Star Wars” movies. It has taken in more than $4.47 billion in ticket sales worldwide — simply amazing. Click here to read an article about it. I do think I’m going to take a break and enjoy the multitude of other good books and podcasts (the subject of a post in the near future.)

 
3 Comments

Posted by on September 17, 2007 in Popular Culture

 

Blogging Thoughts and the Return of Indy

Over the past three months of blogging, I have often wondered about why we bloggers feel the need to put our thoughts out into cyberspace for public consumption. First, we’re not sure who is reading our ramblings (if anyone). Second, if someone we know is reading our thoughts, can we honestly say what we are thinking without fear of potentially giving unintended offense. I recently removed a couple of my more “negative” blogs due to concerns that my meaning may be misconstrued. After all, blogging is completely devoid of voice inflections and non-verbal aspects of communication, so like email, it is easy to have one’s message not understood the way it was intended.

I’ve occasionally thought that it would be nice to have a totally anonymous blog where you can just say whatever thinking without concern for who might be reading it. Oh wait, I think that’s called a journal. 🙂 Even then, however, I’m often thinking about how my descendents may someday be reading it and will judge me by my “weakness in writing” and my less-than-perfect perspectives. I just can’t win! 😦

Anyway, in a TOTALLY unrelated subject, I just read up on the newest Indiana Jones movie, which is coming out next May. It’s called Indiana Jones and the  Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Sounds like a goofy title to me, but that’s not unlike George Lucas who brought us such B-movie-sounding titles like “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones.” Oh, and George, if you’re reading this, please don’t be offended. I’m excited to see your new Indiana Jones movie. I’m sure it’s going to be great!

indy_4_paulshipperrv8.jpg

 
3 Comments

Posted by on September 14, 2007 in Popular Culture, Random Thoughts