The Cicadas are Coming! The Cicadas are Coming!

I mentioned last month that Brood X, the prodigious cohort of cicadas that emerge every 17 years to mate and be quite loud about it, are coming this year — possibly near you!

For those of you who want more of the science behind it all, here’s Mike Raupp, the “Bug Guy” and avowed cicada fan to give you all the details you didn’t know you needed.

First Contact Day, T-Minus 42 Years

Still from Star Trek: First Contact, released 25 years ago

Since I did a post this past September about the “Star Trek Day” panels last September, I figured I’d post it here — and for those of you who can, perhaps you’d like to see some of them live.

I’m not sure if CBS/Paramount plan to make this a regular thing or if this was done, in part, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film Star Trek: First Contact. The action begins at 12 noon Pacific.


Although one of the big news items was that Q will be in season two of Picard, I have to confess, I felt it’d be surprising if he wasn’t in the series eventually. Don’t get me wrong, I was pleased to hear it — and since Guinan should be in the season as well, perhaps we finally learn more about their mutual animus for one another.

Perhaps because it was First Contact Day, I found the panel about First Contact to be quite illuminating, including a great story of how Alice Krige auditioned for the part of the now iconic Borg Queen and how Jonathan “Two Takes” Frakes got that nickname.

I also found the panel that explored Nichelle Nichols’ impact on screen and behind-the-scenes to be illuminating. I knew about Dr. King’s role in encouraging Nichols to stay in the role of Uhura, but I didn’t know about her work with NASA — and of course there’s some additional personal connections these actors mention.

Finally, while not the only other panel (you can check out the full list they’ve posted on YouTube), I enjoyed the one about Star Trek and comedy.

What will the House of Mouse do when the Mouse isn’t entirely in the House?

I will occasionally post about topics involving intellectual property and the public domain, most notably with new works coming into the public domain in the United States every January 1st.

That means, in relatively short order, Mickey Mouse will come into the public domain, since his first appearance was in 1928’s “Steamboat Willie.”

Still from “Steamboat Willie”

But whenever Disney and lawyers are involved, you know that no simple answer will suffice.

Enter Quincy Stanford over at the Disney Food Blog, who does a deep dive into the various ramifications “Steamboat Willie” coming into the public domain may have for Disney the company.

And lest you wonder how much a site called the Disney Food Blog has to say about Disney’s intellectual property rights, I would submit it’s as much or potentially more than a site named for some guy with a Scandinavian name.

Beverly Cleary: An Appreciation

Beverly Cleary at home in Carmel Valley, California in April, 2006.
Christina Koci Hernandez | San Francisco Chronicle | Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images

Author Beverly Cleary has died at the astounding age of 104. There are remembrances and obituaries all over including:

While the comic creations of Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, Goscinny & Uderzo, Carl Barks, and HergĂ© loomed large in my childhood, I’m hard pressed to think of a single author whose chapter books I read more as a kid than Beverly Cleary. This fact was probably aided by the fact that my mom was, like Cleary herself was back in the day, a children’s librarian, and I am of an age that some of the Ramona books were still coming out new when I was of prime age to read them. I also read all the Henry Huggins books, my favorite probably being Ribsy, and also quite liked the tales of Ralph and his motorcycle, which at least one of my kids as now read as well.

If life is indeed something that happens while you’re making other plans, it’s nice to know you can create some magic along the way.

Apollyon Launches April 21

I’ve voiced a few characters for audio fiction podcasts in the past few months (not including Jabberwocky Audio Theater) and one of those debuts in less than 30 days!

Apollyon is one of those thoughtful science fiction stories that I love. You can learn more about the story and check out the trailer at the website.

More soon.

Let’s Go Over the Bonus Situation: Remembering Yaphet Kotto

An actor whose magnetic presence matched or exceeded his six foot, four frame, Yaphet Kotto has died at the age of 81.

Parker in the classic sci-fi film Alien is one of his best known roles

Remembrances can be found across the internet, including:

While it’s almost certain I first saw Kotto in Alien, the performance that will always stick with me was seeing him on stage as Troy Maxson in August Wilson’s Fences.

A publicity still from the 1990 London production of Fences (couldn’t find the DC one)

Through all the power, fragility, strength, and weakness in that character was a presence that just couldn’t be faked. As an actor and as a casting director, I obsess about actors “inhabiting” their characters to the right degree — and Kotto always did so. Amazingly so.

And I should point out he could inhabit all sorts of characters in a variety of genres. For Midnight Run, his turn as FBI agent Alonzo Mosely is a perfectly realized straight man in an action-comedy whose plot was anything but straightforward. His gravitas weathers all the shenanigans and manages to ground the film in the stakes, especially at the end.

His moment at the end is pure acting gold.
This man has seen things you recent Starfleet grads wouldn’t believe…

Although he turned down an opportunity to be Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back, evidently in part to avoid being typed in “space” films, he did come awfully close to being in another venerable sci-fi franchise.

Yes, apparently he was close to being Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation. That would have been a very different Picard, but man would I like to see the stories from that timeline.

Time and again, the appearance of Yaphet Kotto has meant you’re getting a damn fine performance. I’m overdue to revisit his turn as Lt. Al Giardello in Homicide: Life on the Street, a series I should check out again anyway.

You want to talk about the bonus situation? The bonus situation was whenever Yaphet Kotto showed up. May his memory be a blessing.

And give the man his badge back (still from Midnight Run)

Your Next Favorite SFF Sitcom?

With the release of WandaVision, we got to see a new genre mashup from the Marvel Cinematic Universe: superheros and sitcoms.

Certainly this isn’t the first time there’s been a mashup of superheroes and outright silliness (The Tick is the one that pops in my mind most concretely as it has had several TV incarnations). And the sitcom backdrops in WandaVision actually lay a foundation for some distinct non-comic plotlines (that’s the limit to how much I’ll spoil things).

However, it did get me thinking about other science fiction and fantasy treatments of sitcoms — and Leah Schnelbach over at Tor.com takes that same thinking and has a bunch of suggestions. I’m partial to Steam and SpaceNewsSpaceRadio myself, but what do you think?

(Personally, I’d also love to see an Ambush Bug animated series).

“Every [film] has to come to an end, sometime.”

I think L. Frank Baum (the source of the amended quotation above) would understand. Like books, songs, and many other an enjoyable thing: all things come to an end.

Thanks to one of my siblings, I have a glorious poster of assorted iconic film endings hanging in my house.

The sharp-eyed among you will note the cunningly-placed “author watermark.”

Who doesn’t love a really solid ending to a film? Whether it’s funny, poignant, thought-provoking, or applause-inducing, a satisfying ending is what so often makes a good movie great.

So I had to give Vulture’s recent roundup of “The 101 Greatest Endings in Movies History.”

Do I agree with them all? No more than many of you probably agree with my 50 Favorite Films. But just as I take that exercise seriously (well, as seriously as one should), the team over at Vulture has clearly put a lot of thought into the piece — and their love of film from all over the globe and from all decades is on display.

It should go without saying that this list is chock full of spoilers. At least 101 of them and possibly more depending on your familiarity of the films on this list. And here’s the thing: there will be films on this list that you have not seen. I have seen literally over 10,000 films in my lifetime and there are films on this list that I have never checked out. Odds are you’re in the same boat.

If that’s the case, heed the words of Roy Scheider: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Go forth and enjoy some films with great endings.

Prepare for Brood X!

Denizens of the Washington metropolitan region share some experiences, like watching Hollywood films where they never get the geography right, there’s some problem on the Beltway, and also… Brood X.

And yeah, based on the map above, we’re not alone in dealing with the sudden and noisy appearance of billions of formidably-sized bugs all ready to fly right into your face.

Seriously, it’s clear from talking with many of my fellow Americans, they have not experienced this little Biblical reenactment and have a hard time imagining it. This will be my third installment.

Keith Matheny and Georgea Kovanis of the Detroit Free Press have a good rundown of the whys and wherefores of this torrent of red-eyed insect exuberance (that’s also the article where the map comes from).

But in the meantime, bear in mind that these Mirror Universe grape leaves do not back down from the appearance of a flyswatter like a fruit fly might. Heck, they don’t even get phased if you whack ’em with it. Not that you should. They’re just here to mate and go back into the soil, doing their part to contribute to the nutrients in the ecosystem.

But if you plan to record some audio, you probably want to do it before May.

Cue Rockin’ Blogiversary Music

Wait! How is this Star Trek-themed?

It’s been six years since I re-launched my personal website, which evidently is the “iron” anniversary, hence good ol’ shellhead above. As I mentioned in last year’s blogiversary post, I was going to try and make this more annual and — especially because last year felt like at least five years — it felt right to do a post.

So here are some highlights and personal favorites.

Star Trek

My series Crisis of Infinite Star Treks lasted the first five years of the blog. As it happened, there was also a Star Trek-related project that I worked on over that same five years. It came to fruition thanks to the pandemic — and to quote a certain Klingon, it was glorious.

Every Episode of Every Star Trek Series, Ranked

As I kind of expected, the traffic I get to this post and its related pages dwarfs just about everything else on the site. It’s like people are interested in Star Trek or something!

The pages that had the comments (with spoilers and snark) got far more hits than the pages with only titles — and of those, the “Whole Enchilada” got far and away the most traffic. Breaking it down by show, these are the pages that got the most traffic:

  1. Star Trek: The Next Generation
  2. Star Trek: Voyager
  3. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
  4. Star Trek (the original series)
  5. Star Trek: Enterprise
  6. Star Trek: Discovery
  7. Star Trek: Picard
  8. Star Trek (the animated series)
  9. Star Trek: Short Treks

Mind you, I don’t think this tells me anything more than which series Trek fans most want to see some guy on the Internet’s ranking of — which reminds me: the fact that Voyager is right there at the top doesn’t surprise me. Based on conversations on Reddit, some of my fellow Trekkers love that show and, just like Enterprise, if you haven’t checked it out there’s a whole slew of episodes that are really good.

In fact, just as I’ve done a “Viewing Guide for Enterprise,” I will be doing a “Viewing Guide for Voyager” and some of the others later this year (if all goes well).

Theater and Creativity Amid Coronavirus

Many of my creative colleagues are depend on being physically on sets and on stages for their ducats, so I’ve been tracking how those industries are doing and posting about them this past year:

And more COVID

While I didn’t want to focus on the pandemic endlessly, I did find it cathartic to share some articles and videos and events related to it, so I created a tag, COVID Craziness, which has a little bit of crossover to theater coverage above. There’s plenty of joy and introspection.

Check it out when it seems right. I suspect for some people it’s too soon, but other’s it’s just right.

Most Visited Posts (apart from Trek)

Apart from the Star Trek ranking, in honor of this, the sixth blogiversary, these are the top six visited posts from the year (not necessarily written in the past year):

  1. Schedule Management: The 0-50-100 Method for Tasks
  2. The Nightmare that is 2020, Expressed in Sugar
  3. My 50 Favorite Films, 2020 Edition
  4. The Worst Derelict Spaceships to Board
  5. Voices Behind the Scenes of Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  6. The Differences between a Policy, Process, Procedure, and Work Instruction

So, it could be that Trek-loving project managers who also watch a lot of films are my niche.

Whatever the case, thanks for visiting and reading, and here’s to another year of maybe (just maybe) useful information.