Star Trek is 55 Years Young Today!

It took a little doing, but the corporate marketing machine has finally gone to warp in trying to create Event Days for Star Trek, with “First Contact Day” earlier this year and “Star Trek Day” honoring the first broadcast of the original series lo these 55 years ago.

Case in point, this slick, satisfying montage:

I’ll come back and update this post with some highlights, but in the meantime, here’s the schedule, conveniently staged for after work for most daytime-working peeps.

Farscape and Mental Health

I’ve mentioned before about my love of the space opera Farscape even going so far as to detail many of my reasons to recommend it.

While I touch on the writing insofar as their episodes move at a rapid clip that puts many older TV shows to shame, one aspect I haven’t dwelt on was how the show deals with mental health in general and trauma in particular.

There are tangled webs and sci-fi tangled webs. This is the latter.

Enter James Hoare’s piece for The Companion. With an assist from Commander Crichton himself (Ben Browder), the article delves into the traumatic events that befall Crichton and how he deals –and is unable to deal– with them.

Frankly, most characters in adventure series experience trauma that would overwhelm those of us who don’t have a writers’ room to prop us up. And traditionally, in many an adventure series, the writers conveniently sidestep the consequences of said overwhelming trauma in the name of preserving the status quo. People being reflective and being affected by the events of one episode bleeding into subsequent episodes is not something one saw in the adventure tales of yore.

Thankfully, Farscape was part of a series of said adventure shows that began to push the envelope of serialization — something we take for granted in the era of streaming and “prestige TV.” And while I always appreciated the different voices and perspectives of the characters –many of Moya’s crew really didn’t get along with one another– reading the article made me realize how much the writers addressed mental health, asking for help, and helping. I suppose just as sci-fi and speculative fiction in general helps explore ideas more easily or safely in its fantastical wrappings, it helps when said sci-fi has been given the mandate to “be as weird as possible.”

But, in the end, how weird is it? After all, as Browder points out, all of us have a ‘Harvey.’

(Note: that last line and the article itself are chock full of spoilers for the series, so if you’re planning to dive into the show for the first time, maybe hold off.)

You Too Can Die of Dysentery!

Nowadays, there are so many different types of timewasters online, but sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a classic.

I had been reminded that one of the quintessential games of my generation, The Oregon Trail, was available to play for free online.

It seems just and right to play it on a site dedicated to Oregon tourism.

Enjoy and, remember, trade to get food and always get help crossing the river.

Ending the Story in Flight

One of my kids has, wisely, picked up on the fact that Disney tends to kill off characters’ parents.

We talked about it (they weren’t disturbed, they just found it odd) and I mentioned that it was one way to “raise the stakes.” I’m not sure if that expression means much to a child who doesn’t know how to play poker, but I’m sure we’ll also get to that in time.

Painting by N.C. Wyeth

Another aspect of stories we haven’t discussed, but I’m sure we will eventually will be when heroes die… and in many cases why and how they die.

Robin Hood was one of my favorite characters from folklore growing up, but it was years of reading tales and watching the films before I got to his death, which, upon reading it, made me sick and angry. And so when I read this piece by Lance Mannion, who sadly left us himself just earlier this year, it resonated.

There’s a lot to unpack in that short piece — from how a hero’s work is unfinished to how their end might be unfair compared to their feats of heroism. However, the idea that sticks in my brain is that notion of a story ending even as it continues, even as it begins again.

Comics Are Not Lucrative for Writers or Artists

Okay, so it’s not the most uplifting article to link to, but I recently read Gita Jackson’s article for Vice about how comic book writers and artists get paid, and I had to share it.

Warning: this does not happen.

Perhaps because of my time producing indie video –and now audio– works, I am quietly obsessed by the kind of data Jackson gets into. How much does it cost to make a comic book? How much should it cost? What’s sustainable?

Sadly, when it comes to the main creators, writers and artists, it’s not particularly sustainable in many instances. No solutions come to mind, though summoning the ghost of Harlan Ellison to mete out justice might not be a bad idea.

Netflix Says “Game On”

Evidently, this month had gotten away from me –at least in term of blog updates– so this is most definitely old news, but remember how I noted that Netflix was getting into podcasts?

Well, apparently they’re getting into video games as well.

Shall we play a Netflix game? (Photo: the 1983 film WarGames)

Per the Vox/Recode article, they’re looking to start with games based on their existing properties (e.g. Stranger Things) and their hire of a former Oculus executive may bode a move towards virtual reality and interactive media (mainly my non-groundbreaking speculation, not the article’s assertion).

Meanwhile, not just a few people are wondering about this move into video games. This is an area where I’m not ready to speculate, but I am very interested in what happens next.

When Did Those American Colonists Stop Sounding Like Brits?

One of my favorite bits of acting training has been learning accents, not in the least because it dovetails nicely with some of the linguistic anthropology I studied back in the day. Really, it’s those times where deciding to study anthropology and theater really pay off.

“Get ’em lads, or they’ll remove the letter ‘u’ from no end of words.”

Despite such ardor, I couldn’t tell you when us treasonous colonials gave up our British accents, but Matt Soniak and the ever-intriguing site Mental Floss are here to fill that need (at least on a basic Internet level).

What if Your Dream Job isn’t the Right Job?

Not for the first time and not for the last, my dayjob is undergoing a re-organization. That means that, not only have I had many conversations with people who are changing jobs or looking for new ones, but it’s an opportune time to examine what the heck I’m doing — and invariably here in the U.S., that seems to bring up questions of “the dream job.”

Our culture is suffused with notions of finding our dream jobs, like the podcast whence this graphic came from. And hey, I like dreams, but are dream jobs always a good idea?

I’ve written about this multiple times on this site, but I believe it’s important to remember that just one job probably won’t capture all the meaning you need in your life. I talk about this a lot more in a post from three years ago on the concept of “ikigai” and one’s “reason for being.”

My conclusion there, something reinforced over the past few years, has been that no one job can satisfy one’s need for meaning — and in fact one’s dream job will have tasks that are less than dreamy (e.g., running an audio theater troupe is wonderful, but not 24/7 delightful).

I’ve also mentioned that one should avoid the trap of trying to turn any hobby or interest into a monetized “side hustle” (a term I dislike on multiple levels). And I still need to explore further the idea of having multiple interests and eschewing the notion of “one true calling.” I mean, I haven’t subscribed to the notion of “one true calling” for some time, but maybe it’s the circles I’ve been in, I haven’t seen too many people pushing back on that notion.

So Rainesford Stauffer’s article for Refinery 29 this past November came across my computer screen at just the right time. A good chunk of it is looking at the work of Dr. Erin Cech, a sociologist studying the place of passion in work, finding work, and defining job satisfaction. What I really like is how much it goes into our society’s concept of work, jobs, and “dream jobs.”

“When paying bills or being fairly compensated are presented as luxuries in the American workforce, rather than fixtures, it’s worth looking at where the urge to make our jobs into more than just work comes from in the first place. It wasn’t always this way.”

Understanding some of the structural and societal pressures to “love your job” is important as we all are beginning to ask more what we want from work in, what I can only hope can soon be the post-Pandemic times.

Online Podcast Storytelling Festival Starts Tomorrow

I’m a big fan of storytelling and working with people on telling stories (you probably gleaned that what with Jabberwocky Audio Theater), so I was very excited to hear about this online festival starting tomorrow.

In case you’re concerned about minding your ducats, the link provided above should give you a discount so it’s free. So enjoy and don’t stop creating.


Creativity and Flipping Perspectives

What better way to kick off the work week with a theory of creativity including why it doesn’t occur at work as much?