A Sampling of Light Beers

Light beers are not part of my regular beer diet.  I consider kicking back and having a beer a treat, so I can’t be concerned overly much about how it affects the bottom line of my bathroom scale. Of course, beers are not for every day in my world.  I’m saving that sort of wacky lifestyle for retirement.  But I do come across a light beer now and again and have made a few snap judgments about some of them.

Warning: I must caveat that all light beers taste like water with a little bit of beer mixed in, so take that into consideration when considering the ratings.

 

Bud Light Orange

Carbs: 14.3    Calories: 142

Beers with flavors are somewhat of a crapshoot, and that goes double with light beers.  The Orange “taste” really does seem to imitate an orange artificial taste, if that’s what you are looking for.  It started out OK but by the end of the beer, I was really getting sick of that fake orange.

Rating:  Would not buy again

Yuengling Flight

Carbs: 2.6      Calories: 95

Although this beer shares the light beer problem of being watery, it’s actually not that watery.  In other words, it’s in the upper tier of light beers just on that alone.  However it’s still watery enough that it’s somewhat lacking in flavor. And although I felt the faint hint of an aftertaste, it never quite got there, which, in the light beer arena, is not bad.

Rating:  OK if that’s what is left

IC Light Mango Premium Light Beer

 

Carbs:            5.3      Calories:  126.50   (for a pint)

Small breweries and microbrews don’t usually dip into the Light Beer market since almost always their inspiration is creating flavorful, delicious beers, but Pittsburg Brewing dared dip its toes into it, and came up with a not bad beer. Again, it’s a light beer, but the flavor is there, if of course muted, and diluted.  However on a hot day, this seems like a good choice.

Rating: Pretty good for a Lite

Bud Light Platinum Lager

 

Carbs: 4.4      Calories: 137

This is described as “triple filtered” so that sounds important.  Plus it’s called Platinum, which sounds fancy.  As far as light beers go, I couldn’t find too much to complain about, but it’s another side reminder that no one is searching out light beers for their full, rich taste.

Rating: Could be a great mixer with a real beer.

 

 

 

Blue Moon LightSky Citrus Wheat

 

I could keep going on this light beer list.  There are, after all, plenty of light beers to choose from, but after trying this, I decided to stop. I’ve drank enough light beers to know that the flavor runs from bad to OK.  None of them are great enough to enjoy for flavor on it’s own. But this one seems to hit the top levels of “OK.”  The promise of the name is actually met for this beer.  It has a faint hint of citrus and it’s somewhat wheaty.  Watery?  Sure, but not to the degree that the others are. That’s important.

Rating:  If you are going to get Light Beer, get this one.

This may sound like a very lackluster review of beers, but light beers fill a niche for people who want to continue to drink, but are wary of the sheer number of carbs and calories that go along with it.  If you are throwing a party or get-together, you need to have light beers available to accommodate the people who are on nutrition alert.  Not only that, it’s a good way to cut a beer that you’ve decided you don’t like that much.  It’s a useful household item, and I don’t mind having them around.

Is there a limit to what we must give up?

On the radio last week (or the week before-time moves differently in 2020), I heard a talk show host make the argument that because of racism, white people are just going to have to give up some things.  He was referring specifically to Confederate flags at NASCAR, but it could include the myriad cancelling’s that the Twitter Red Guards have instituted in the past few weeks since George Floyd’s death.  There was some self-canceling as well. Tina Fey, creator of 30 Rock requested that three 30 Rock episodes be removed from streaming because of blackface episodes. The creator of Scrubs also requested that three of their episodes be removed due to blackface episodes.  This of course is as we’ve always suspected; blackface always comes in threes.

These are mini-tragedies since none of these episodes were racist and actually handled the entire blackface issue in show (spoiler-it’s NOT OK!).  But what really got me in the gut was the removal of the “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” episode of Community.

The 21st Century has not been kind to the venerable television format of the sitcom.  Partially, it’s because the format is just tired.  Since the 1950’s almost every possible permutation has been done; and then done again…and then again, and again, and again.  Also as a general rule, TV writers and creators have not gotten any smarter or more creative. So a show like Community, when it premiered in 2009, was quite a revelation.  Not in ratings of course, but in tight writing, quirky characters, and good laughs.  Think of it, a sitcom that was actually funny.  Believe it or not, that used to actually be a thing.

The actual episode wasn’t of course about race, Advanced Dungeon’s and Dragons, as Wikipedia described the episode, was about…

“The episode is introduced in flashback, narrated by a female narrator who explains the plight of Neil, a student at Greendale who had hoped that the stigma of teasing and name-calling from other schools would not carry over to Greendale. However, he soon became known as “Fat Neil”, causing him to become very depressed. Jeff observed his change and tried to cheer Neil up by feigning interest in Neil’s favorite pastime, Dungeons & Dragons. When Neil gave Jeff all his Dungeons & Dragons books, saying that he didn’t need them any more, Jeff worried that Neil had become suicidal. Jeff worked with the rest of the study group to invite Neil to play a game of Dungeons & Dragons with them to cheer his spirits. The group specifically did not invite “Pierce the Insensitive”, worried that Pierce would tease Neil.”

So it’s an episode about depression, told through the gameplay of Dungeon’s and Dragons, years before shows such as Critical Role began integrating a D & D game into episodic television, and it was done brilliantly, combining both the round-the-table gameplay with the actual story being told through the game.  It was easily in the top 10 Community episodes, and now it’s gone.

But wait you ask, what about the blackface?

Señor Chang (Ken Jeong) shows up dressed as a Drow, or Dark Elf.  Get ready, here it is!

 

So for that, we lose this episode to the memory hole.

So it’s not blackface at all, but a character cosplaying an imaginary species that doesn’t exist. But who has time to figure out what’s offensive and what isn’t?  Ban it all!

Since all of the episode-vanishing, statue vandalizing, history vanquishing, and imaginary noose hysteria has nothing to do racism or solving any racial issue, my prediction is that no racial issue gets solved no matter what you throw off the ship.  Even burning the entire Western canon isn’t going to satisfy a mob, either a real torch bearing one or a twitter one, because a mob can’t be satisfied, they’re a mob.

Batwoman Crashes and Burns

I didn’t know who Ruby Rose was when she was cast as the main lead in Batwoman. She didn’t seem to have the physicality for the role (too thin) and was covered with weird, grotesque tattoos, but I thought, “Eh, I’ve been wrong before in casting choices,” so I was content to see how it played out.

Not that great in my opinion.  I realize official fan reaction was enthusiastic; with “official fan” being defined as the editorial guidance of nerd fan sites.  Greg Berlanti, the father of the CW Arrowverse and gay himself, specifically was looking for an LGBT actress to play the role.  Unfortunately that narrows down the choices available, so I imagine that’s how he ended up with Ruby Rose.

The show itself was so gay that Will & Grace looked straight by comparison.  Almost every subplot was gay related. Kate Kane gets kicked out of military school after being caught in flagrante delicto with her girlfriend, comes back to Gotham years later after training herself up to Bat-standards, runs into her old girlfriend who’s now married to a guy, and proceeds to try to break up her marriage and get her back.  She successfully breaks up her girlfriend’s marriage (but doesn’t get her back), starts a gay bar, romances several other girls, listens to Rachel Maddow… it’s just one rainbow flag after another.

Oh and also fights crime.

Now imagine if there was a show about a Bat crime fighter, only instead of a proud and out lesbian, it’s a straight man (I know, crazy right?  But just pretend for a minute).  This “Bat-Man” tracks down an old flame, tries to break up her marriage, and continually stalks her throughout the season, all the while developing a side business of a hook up bar and listening to Manosphere podcasts.

He would be a Bat-creep right?  But it’s different when she does it…

So with the conclusion of Season 1, Ruby Rose abruptly quits the show for reasons, and Warner Brothers thanks her for service and immediately vow to recast the character:

“…look forward to sharing its new direction, including the casting of a new lead actress and member of the LGBTQ community, in the coming months.”

So they are vowing to repeat their dumb mistake, and limit their choices once again.  Although… I admit I might really look forward to Ellen Degeneres as Batwoman, but it doesn’t seem like the producers would find that as funny as I would.  Hopefully Rue Paul is still in the running…  I don’t think the record on recasting the lead character on television shows is a particularly good one, but this seems to be an ideological imperative.

So I’m very much in the minority on this, but I regard Batwoman Season 1 as a failed experiment.  I wouldn’t recommend recasting your lead and doubling down on the same mistake.  If it were me, I would:

  1. Have another character take on the Batwoman mantle.
  2. Turn the show into a more ensemble show of a team of many Bat-related characters.

Obviously the producers are not going to do that since it would be an admission that season one was in fact a failed experiment, but in both scenarios, there is a rather large Bat-family of characters to draw on, including one already on the show, Camrus Johnson plays Batwoman’s man Friday Luke Fox, who in the comics becomes Batwing.  Both options allow for a long term “whatever happened to Kate Kane?” storyline.  And of course, the show should keep the villain ‘Alice’, played by Rachel Skarsten.  Skarsten’s performance as the crazed Alice was one of the few highlights of the season.

Whatever they decide, we won’t see the finished product until 2021, so they have plenty of time to tweak the concept (which they won’t).  It seems like a lot of trouble to save a show that last saw over a million viewers during the Crisis crossover. But I suppose sometimes it’s about making a statement, even if the statement is a dumb one.

 

 

Face Mask Madness

My favorite morning show has usually started off the opening of each show with a litany of “so what did you do last night” openers; the type of conversation starter used to kick off large cast morning shows for years.  That usually leads to some story highlighting drinking or some other stupidity to last until for the first commercial break.

But that was in the before times.

Now, the daily opening topic of conversation revolves around “I went to [fill in the blank] last night and so many dum dums were not wearing masks!”  Usually followed by a “hrrmph,” or “my word.”  The Karen’s in the Morning are only a symptom of how quickly the science and social convention have flipped on face masks.

Let’s step back into the wayback machine to that long ago era of less than two months ago.  It seems like a different age, but at that time the Surgeon General, back on March 2nd said:

“You can increase your risk of getting it by wearing a mask if you are not a health care provider,” Adams said. “Folks who don’t know how to wear them properly tend to touch their faces a lot and actually can increase the spread of coronavirus,” he added.

Adams’ comments Monday reiterate his blaring tweet from the weekend, urging people to “STOP BUYING MASKS.” He said that they were “NOT effective” to the general public and noted that the increased demand in masks puts medical professionals at risk.”

Besides the Surgeon General, the CDC agreed with the boo masks policy.

“The CDC said last month it doesn’t recommend people use face masks, making the announcement on the same day that first case of person-to-person transmission of coronavirus was reported in the U.S.”

So that was the state of SCIENCE (PBUH) just a few weeks ago.  Masks were for dum dums.

But that was then…

Now of course, we live in a different age, in which to mask or not to mask has great social and legal significance. In Philadelphia the cops dragged a man off a bus for not wearing a mask, and there have been several fights over to mask or unmask.  At this stupid point of societal change, the face mask is a social statement.  The good people wear masks, and the ne’er-do-wells have none.

Mask shaming has elevated the nation’s Karen’s, who a mere two months ago were a mocked and derided group, into America’s version of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, seemingly authorized to wave their fingers in the face of any unmasked person and of course, waving the threat to call the manager.

I’d like to say that it takes a nation of Karen’s to keep me down, but in the past week I’ve twice had to go to places that required the mask, and…I wore the mask, fully aware that I was participating in a weird sort of face mask theater, where my wearing the mask was a social marker of approval more than any medical one.  I just find it bizarre how public attitudes can turn on a dime. Who knew it was so easy to manipulate human behavior?

Well they know now.

 

Quick HBO Reviews: Post Game of Thrones Edition

A year ago, watching the season finale of Game of Thrones with my wife, I watched Jon Snow knife his aunt/lover Daenerys, watch as a dragon flew Aunt Dani’s body to who knows where, watch a council of randos decide the future of the 7 (now 6) Kingdoms, and finally, in a case of Law & Order: King’s Landing Unit, see Jon Snow plead down regicide to exile.

Me: “Well that was nice, time to go to bed…”

Wife: “Noooooooooooo!”

Me: “Be sure and cancel HBO in the morning.”

In spite of the betrayal of my wife and millions of others at the hands of the Game of Thrones showrunners (she read the books, poor thing), she did not in fact, cancel HBO, in spite of my monthly requests for her to do so upon receiving the cable bill. So in the year since GoT went off the air, millions of HBO subscribers have wondered, “With Game of Thrones gone is HBO worth it?”  My response to my wife right after GoT wrapped was clear.

So a year later, we still have HBO. I’ve watched a couple of the shows the network has tossed up just to justify the fact that we’re paying for even more TV in an age in which we’re inundated with content from streaming services and already have more to watch than we have actual free time to do the watching.

Years and Years

From the time I saw a trailer for this BBC/HBO limited series, I knew that the only reason this show existed was because of, who else, Trump.

The show tracks a dysfunctional family in the UK over a series of decades in the future; a future created by Trump engaging in a nuclear attack because, of course he would. The show can be summarized as, in the future everyone is gay and refugees are good, with a few Black Mirror-like touches thrown in.

Rating: Garbage Pail

Euphoria

Compared to Euphoria, Years and Years is good, wholesome family fun.  One almost never finds a reason to use the word “degeneracy” in our degenerate times.  When everything’s degenerate, nothing is, but this show, yeah is degenerate. So naturally it’s renewed for season 2. If you’ve always felt that what television lacks are gym scenes with 20 or so wagging penises, this is the show for you.

Rating: Bleech

His Dark Materials

 

This fantasy show is based on series of books by Philip Pullman, which I admit, I don’t get.  I saw the movie, The Golden Compass; found it boring, and watched this TV treatment, and also found it boring. Verdict?  The show is true to the source material.

Rating: Zzzzzzz

 

Avenue 5

This is supposed to be a SF comedy.  Well, I guess technically It’s sort of science fiction, but the comedy is thin, unless you think a crowd of stupid people yelling at each other is funny. The premise is that in the near future, a space cruise ship, through a series of unfortunate events, goes off course and is not able to return to earth for 6 years.  Since the ship is filled with typical cruise ship passengers, every interaction between crew and passenger is both annoying and stupid. They even managed to stretch the Karen meme (I want to see the manager) for the entire season. Great cast, but they are totally wasted in this pay cable Love Boat in space.

Rating: Loud Screeching

Westworld (Season 3)

After the debacle of season 2, I had no intention on wasting any more time with Westworld.  I should have learned my lesson many JJ Abrams shows ago, but then I saw some of the trailers for season 3 and thought to myself, “man that looks pretty good.”

So they sucked me back in.

Well fool me once, shame on you JJ Abrams, but fool me a couple of times…then I have to own this one.  The first few episodes started off promising, as if the show was really going somewhere substantial, but the closer it got to a payoff, the quicker it degenerated into the typical JJ Abrams no-idea-where-this-is-going, so just have some good special effects.  Ultimately, little of this made sense, just like season 2.

Rating: Cruelly Disappointing

 

The Outsider

If there was one saving grace from the past year of HBO shows, it would be The Outsider.  Based on a Stephen King novel, this show starts in a small Georgia town as a local paragon of the community is accused of a brutal child murder only to have contradictory accounts showing he seemed to be in two places at once.  Great story; great cast, and satisfying conclusion.

But still, it doesn’t justify paying for HBO for an entire year.  So if it’s not obvious by now, this entire post is a passive aggressive plea to my wife to save us some money and cancel this darn thing.  You don’t even watch HBO!

Picard Season One Finale: A Bad Copy

A few weeks ago I posted about the Star Trek: Picard series streaming on CBS All Access. I addressed the usual super fan complaints that accompany any new Star Trek venture, “Is this Star Trek?” and of course, “this sucks.”  I concluded that yes indeed, this was a Star Trek show, and a good one.  I was really enjoying it!

I was wrong. I apologize.

For me everything was going great until the two part season finale, Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1 & 2.  So be warned, everything beyond this point is super spoiler territory.

Although I was not on board with every decision along the way to get to the season finale, such as the whitewashing of the murder of Bruce Maddox by Dr Jurati, I assumed that in the finale things would wrap up in a satisfactory way.  Nope.  Instead…

Doctor Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill):  As a cold blooded murderer, I expected either a redemption arc or a justice one.  Instead there was neither.  Jurati killed Maddox, the person that got the crew together to find in the first place, and then after promising to turn herself in, everyone just sort of shrugged and forgot about it.  She goes on to become a full-fledged member of Picard’s Scooby gang with no more mention that she’s a murderer and hey, maybe Maddox, a brilliant scientist, deserved some sort of justice.

Soji (Isa Briones): Soji started out as easily the most sympathetic character, a girl who didn’t understand what was happening to her, and then realizing that all of her memories were false and she wasn’t even human, but a sophisticated android. But then as her memories of her prior robot life return, the Soji that we’ve known through the series became effectively dead.  Soji 2.0 goes from being worried about whether she was human or not, to deciding to initiate galaxy wide Armageddon on biological sentient life by contacting the mysterious synthetic race that wipes out biological species that discriminate against robots.  That was a pretty quick turnaround from, “Am I human?” to “Destroy all humans!” Skynet would be proud.  And now she’s part of Picard’s Scooby gang.  I guess attempted genocide is an easily forgivable crime in the 24th Century.

The Romulans:  Surprisingly the Romulans, in spite of being Romulans, come out looking pretty good.  Having lost their homeworld in the Supernova, the scary Romulan Star Empire is a shadow of its former self.  The “Romulan Free State” is a much weaker version, not even able to enforce the Neutral Zone any more.  For all intents and purposes, there is no longer a Neutral Zone.  And still, they are trying to save the universe from the utter stupidity of Picard and the Federation.  Their super duper secret police, the Zhat Vash, has known about the advanced genocidal synthetics all along, and have worked to suppress advanced AI and robotics anywhere and everywhere to avoid attracting their attention.  This explains the motivation of the Romulan spies Narek, Narissa, and Commodore Oh.  They want to keep the galaxy safe from a far superior race which has exterminated entire biological races before and apparently seem willing to do it again.

And yet they are the “villains.”

The Star Trek Ending:  I’ve complained before about the complete hand waving that seems to go along with closing out the conflicts of a Star Trek storyline by a Starfleet officer giving an impassioned speech, and suddenly the enemy lays down his arms and turns his swords into plowshares.  The power of a self-righteous Starfleet speech is apparently not to be underestimated, as I noted about the Discovery season one finale in which Burnham gives the Klingon Chancellor one and the Chancellor calls off the attack on Earth, even though at this point the Klingons had all but won the war and their fleet was just outside the solar system, ready for orders.  This highlights one of the major flaws of the Star Trek worldview, it loves diversity, but as I noted about the Discovery finale, ultimately doesn’t believe in it.

“…the solution to the war wasn’t found in delivering a decisive military defeat on the enemy, but by adherence to the Federation’s highest principles, and assuming (always correctly) that everyone else in the universe at some deep down level, shares those same principles.”

So Picard gives an impassioned speech to Soji, and she changes her mind about eliminating every biological species in the galaxy, just like that.

I wonder how that would have played out throughout history…

Starfleet vs The American Revolution

Picard:  As an opponent of Brexit, I implore you to lay down your arms and end this senseless conflict.  Think about the lives lost…the waste.

General Washington:  Your words have moved me Admiral.  We started this struggle because we were moved by the writings of enlightenment thinkers, and the very real threat to our right to have representation, but eh, whatever, God Save the King!

Picard:  Actually we’re replacing the monarchy with a Federation Council.

Starfleet vs Hitler

Picard: …and that is why, Herr Hitler, you must lay down your arms, cease this pointless conflict to conquer Europe, and stop killing people based on religion and ethnicity.

Hitler:  You have enlightened me Admiral.  I never realized that Slavs, Jews, and Gypsies shared the same hopes and dreams as Aryans.  I could have saved so many bullets if I had known that!  And yes, my dream of establishing a united Europe, a common market united under a single currency with open borders was a foolish hope.

Picard: Wait, what?  Hold up a second…

Starfleet vs Osama bin Ladin

Picard: …and that’s why, in spite of 9/11, you’ll find that people are pretty forgiving if you pen a sincere apology for your actions and resolve to do better.

Bin Ladin: Admiral you truly bring wisdom surpassing all of our Mullahs.  In fact, you’ve convinced me that not only are you wiser than our best religious thinkers, but that all religion is but primitive superstition and that mankind is ready to evolve into a more enlightened species, ready to achieve utopia on Earth via the mechanisms of advanced AI, automation, and universal basic income.

Picard: #Yanggang2020.

Data (Brent Spiner):  Although the character has been dead since the end of the movie Star Trek: Nemesis, his presence has loomed large on the show as Picard, even years later, still struggled dealing with the grief and guilt of Data sacrificing his “life” to save Picard’s.  So in the finale, Picard meets Data again, or at least a copy of his memories, in a computer simulation.  As a final chat, it’s rather touching, as Data requests that when Picard gets out of the simulation, he deletes the Data memory copy.  As a character who struggled with being human, he wants an ending to his story; “a butterfly that lives forever is really not a butterfly at all.”  It’s a nice speech in which Data makes a point that everything about life has value because it’s temporary, and it really seemed in tune with the entirety of the season, in which Picard is dealing with his own mortality.

Picard (Patrick Stewart):  Getting back to Picard’s impassioned speechmaking, after making his final one to Soji, he collapses and dies, finally succumbing under the stress to his long battle with Irumodic Syndrome.  His companions mourn him, and if the show had just ended there, all the other flaws could have been easily forgiven.  Instead, they copy Picard’s mind, spin it up in a new robot body, and robot Picard lives.  They even made one that looks like an 93 year old man that’s weak and will break down after a decade or two.  How thoughtful.

Not being a series finale like the Lost ending, it’s probably not fair to compare the two. Also the ending of Lost was simply a result of the writers not being half as clever as they thought they were and they simply wrote themselves into a corner.  With Picard, bringing him back to “life” as an android was a deliberate choice, a choice that made Picard’s character arc, as a man coming to terms with his mortality, and Data’s character arc, as a being who wanted to be human so much he was willing to die like one, essentially pointless.  And pointless as it was, Robot Picard had no trouble deleting Data.  Apparently the writers and showrunners saw not a bit of irony in that.

So the show ends with everyone on the bridge of the ship, Soji, the near genocidal monster, Doctor Jurati, a brutal murderer, and robot Picard, all ready to zoom off into the galaxy for more adventures. For a show and season that I had otherwise enjoyed, that was one of the most stunningly bad season finale’s I’d ever seen.  It’s hard to fathom the deliberate choice of making a mockery of Data’s death (or murder at the hands of robot Picard) and the entire premise of the show by having robot Picard plead for more years of existence to his makers.

I wonder if actual human Picard got a funeral, or did they just dump his carcass in the landfill?  With Picard dead, who gets his Chateau?  It’s a cinch that his Romulan housekeepers, Laris and Zhaban, are not going to consider robot Picard as anything but an abomination, a hideous copy of their dear friend. There is no crying in Star Trek but I do have to mourn what started out as great show and turned into merely a synthetic copy of one.

 

 

 

My Corona

There was something missing for me before I could join the internet frenzy of posting on the current hysteria on the coronavirus, and that was the coronavirus parody songs.  We’ve finally hit peak parody songs for Coronavirus, so let me present the best one of the bunch I looked at…

…there were a few others that let’s face it, just were not up to snuff, but at least they were out there trying.  Of course The Knack’s My Sharona is probably one of the most easily parodiable (is this a word?) song of all time.  Yes, Sharona and Corona is a happy rhyming coincidence, but you don’t even need that, as Weird Al demonstrated back in 1983 with his iconic take.

No such luck for my second guess, a parody of Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire. A search found nothing coronavirus related so I’ll get it started and everyone can join in:

Black Plague, Spanish Flu, Jonas Salk cured Polio

Legionnaires, Swine Flu, Measles and Anti-Vax,

SARS and MERS, Ebola coming straight for you

And don’t forget Bird Flu!

We didn’t start the virus…

Now Everybody…

No?

OK back to the day job…

But parody songs aside, I’ve been wondering how serious I should take this virus for the past two months.  Is it “wash my hands” serious, or stock up on beans and bullets and head for the hills serious?  Most of the commentary online seems to lean more towards beans and bullets.  But I guess I’ve just been so over-saturated with hysteria from the media the past few years it’s becoming more and more difficult to take anything they say seriously.  You may not remember, but in January we were supposed to plunge into World War III because Trump offed some terrorist.  We were also supposed to plunge into World War III in 2017 because North Korea was going to nuke us.  Now someday, we may well get into World War III, but I doubt it will be due to anything that the media hyped up for sweeps.

On the other hand, I am washing my hands more, and for the first time, I’ve availed myself to the Purell wipes for the carts at the grocery store.  So precautions are being listened to.

However some people seemed to have gone corona-crazy, and in a way that I wasn’t even during the last time I was seriously worried about a disease as a public health concern, 2014’s Ebola outbreak.  With a death rate of 50-90%, that is a disease to be feared.

But the nearest comparison is still the annual flu season (I know I know, it’s not the flu, but its symptoms are basically identical).  To put it in perspective:

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that last year in the U.S. alone 35 million people contracted the flu. That is million with an “m.” That means that one in every 10 Americans had the flu. There were 490,000 hospitalizations and 34,000 people who died of the flu in America during last year’s season. That was an annual flu epidemic.

So far in the United States this flu season, from October through February 22, the CDC estimates there have been upwards of 45 million cases of the flu in the U.S. Again, that’s million with an “m.” There have been between upwards of 560,000 flu-related hospitalizations and upwards of 46,000 flu deaths. This is another annual flu epidemic.

According to this website, (which updates with regular coronavirus statistics); as of this writing, the US has 950 cases, 30 deaths, and 8 cases considered “critical.”  Since the coronavirus competes with the flu for the same vulnerable population (elderly with chronic conditions), the idea that this virus could kill over a million and a half people in the US seems ridiculous.  The precautions being taken could save lives by reducing deaths and infection from the annual flu.  If anything, the worst threat we face is the economic one from the hysteria.

Well, we’ll know in a few months.  Either it will drop down the media memory hole, or at some point I’ll step out of my Fortress of Solitude to find a vacant, dead world, killed off by a Mexican beer of all things.

My bet is memory hole.

Star Trek Picard: Is it Real Trek?

I’ve really enjoyed the Star Trek Picard show since it dropped on CBS All Access and in the world of Star Trek television (which is surprisingly a going concern) it’s one of the best going; better than Star Trek Discovery.  But some fans are really annoyed, dismissing the show as “not Star Trek” like these two hate watchers.

But what is and isn’t Star Trek goes back to the premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation, back in 1987.  No Kirk? No Star Trek the thinking went.  And that sort of thinking has accompanied every new Star Trek show.  There was at least a good reason to think that when Star Trek Deep Space 9 came out.  That was a show totally different from the previous two shows, featuring a stationary space station on the edges of the Federation where the Federation and Starfleet only had a toe hold, and aliens set the agenda.  But…as the show grew it produced some of the best Star Trek episodes ever.  However that only happened because Gene Roddenberry died in 1991 before Deep Space Nine premiered in 1993, allowing the show to evolve without Roddenberry’s rigid guidance.

A case was also made that Star Trek: Discovery also, wasn’t Star Trek.  Set 10 years before the original series, it looked and acted nothing like the original series and just didn’t even look as if it was set in the same universe.  The “Klingons” were remade to look like…some other kind of alien.

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, had progressively gone more nutso commie from the time his Original Series came out as a space western until The Next Generation came out, where the Federation was presented as some sort of utopian commie empire in which society, and the people in them, had reached perfection. This cut into a lot of drama since Roddenberry’s script guidance in TNG was that there could be no interpersonal conflict among crew members because hey, in the future, we all get along. That ridiculous script guidance started to fade before TNG ended its run and wasn’t a factor in subsequent Star Trek outings.  That wasn’t the worst of Roddenberry’s delusion.  As I noted while reviewing Star Trek Beyond:

“Roddenberry’s “vision” was of a communist utopia that even in the realm of science fiction, made no sense.  It was easier to make up the technobabble of transporters, holodecks, and faster than light travel then explain why they don’t need money and no one is drawing a paycheck, but still showing up for work every day.”

One day, I may take up the challenge of designing a Federation economy, and see if I can squeeze Roddenberry’s dumb view of economics into some sort of technobabble shape, but not today.

So Star Trek: Picard takes place in a far less utopian time in Federation history.  Set approximately 20 years after the events of the last TNG movie, Star Trek: Nemesis, the universe, in Picard’s view, has gone to hell in a handbasket.  Fourteen years earlier, the supernova of the Romulan homeworld’s sun (which kicked off the events that lead to the “Kelvin timeline;” the three JJ Abrams Star Trek movies) had the Federation engaged in a massive refugee relief effort to evacuate Romulans from their doomed system.  The effort was aborted by an android terrorist attack on the shipyards of Mars, killing 92,000 people.  The androids, called “synths” were based off Commander Data’s basic design, and were quickly banned throughout the Federation and the refugee evacuation was halted.

Naturally Picard throws a fit and thinking he could pull opinion at Starfleet (“do you know who I am?”) throws his position on the line, and Starfleet, to Picard’s surprise, takes it, effectively forcing him into retirement.  This is the scenario that actor Patrick Stewart likened to our current age:

“[The show] was me responding to the world of Brexit and Trump and feeling, ‘Why hasn’t the Federation changed? Why hasn’t Starfleet changed?’ Maybe they’re not as reliable and trustworthy as we all thought.”

This is, of course ridiculous.  Both Patrick Stewart and his avatar, Jean-Luc Picard are wrong on this.  This isn’t about Brexit or Trump, it’s more about 9/11, and how you respond to a massive terrorist attack when you don’t know the real cause.  Did the Synths just get together and decide to go full Skynet?  Was it some sort of major malfunction?  Did some other nefarious group reprogram the Synths as an attack on the Federation?   Immediately after the attack, nobody would know, so the prudent thing would be to do exactly what the Federation did, ban Synths and halt the Refugee program.  With the Utopia Planitia Shipyards destroyed, you can’t tie up all of your remaining ships on some do-gooder adventure when you have no idea if or when the next attack is coming.

Why the Romulans couldn’t evacuate their own people is never explained.  They ruled a massive star empire covering many worlds.  It would seem they would have plenty of resources to throw at the problem much closer to home.

But to the question, is Star Trek: Picard “Star Trek,” my answer is unequivocally yes.  In fact, I would argue that it is the most “Star Trek” show since Next Generation.  Picard is a nice coda to TNG.  It’s a “where are they now” view of what happened to the Next Generation crew as well as Star Trek: Voyager and answers the question what happened to the galaxy and the universe of Star Trek since those shows ended. Unlike a show that has Easter eggs, the entire show is one big Easter egg. That’s not an answer that will please some Star Trek fans that have never been able to move on from the original series, but almost never does a successful TV show like TNG gets a series that functions as an aftermath.  Fans should enjoy this.

TV Show Pitches: Black History Month Edition

A few years ago, I wrote about a science fictionTV show pitch about Space Pirates, and sure enough, I actually got a show very similar to my description in The Expanse.  Since then, I’ve had several show idea’s that have bubbled around the old noggin.  I’ve not yet started to write them down (until now), but I’ve pitched them to various friends and acquaintances with; shall we say; mixed results.  I don’t care though.  I did get The Expanse on the air.

And also, it is Black History Month, and I’ve been meaning to jot something down about that ever since the last Black History Month. However the idea I’ve been mulling over is real history, so I don’t want to go with that until I’ve double checked my real history.  In the meantime, here’s something that is both Black related and History related, although maybe more history adjacent than actual history.  So here are two TV show pitches that should appeal to The Woke (which seems to be a requirement these days to get on the air):

 

Working Title:  Blacklander (this title needs work)

Genre:  Fantasy, Romance

Hot Take:  Outlander meets Roots

Premise:  I wrote a review for the show Outlander a few years ago.  The premise of that show is that a World War II nurse ends up going back to the 16th century via magical Druid stones.  She meets a dashing Scottish rogue, falls in love, yada yada yada.  My idea is for 21st century Medical resident at a Virginia hospital, while leaving work after a late shift has her car hit by magical lightening (there is a lack of magical Druid stones in Virginia), goes off a bridge into a river, and when she swims to the surface finds herself in pre-Civil war Virginia, where she is promptly arrested by a slave patrol hunting a female runaway slave.

The medical resident, we’ll call her “Claire” for now, is taken back to the plantation that the runaway slave was from.  The overseer recognizes that this isn’t the same person who ran away, but pretends that she is, otherwise the slave patrol will just sell her and the plantation will be out a slave.

Crying hysterical Claire, who thinks she’s going crazy, turns out to be worse than useless at actual slave work, but when one of the slave kids drown at the river, she uses CPR to resuscitate him.  This divides the slaves.  Half think she’s a witch, and half thinks she’s a great healer.  This firestorm winds up at the Master’s house, where the master is angry at the overseer’s deception, and intrigued by the medical possibilities.  The mistress of the plantation is ill with an undiagnosed disease which Claire easily diagnoses putting her at odds with her real doctor.  They argue over medical matters during which the doctor, although disagreeing with her diagnosis, is astonished by her apparent medical knowledge.  He offers the Master of the plantation a deal to take her on as assistant (these kind of transactions with skilled slaves were common at the time), ostensibly to train her to provide medical treatment to the slaves, but really to pick her brain about her medical knowledge.

So an unlikely friendship is formed.

Naturally a proper romance requires multiple suitors for the lady fair.  Chicks dig options.  So we have:

The doctor, with the dead wife.

The noble slave who’s back is scarred by multiple whippings (just like in Outlander).

The landowner’s son, who is the wily evil option.

Set in the 1850’s just before John Brown’s raid and the Civil War, Claire has the foreknowledge to change history.  In Outlander, that Claire found a deterministic universe, in which nothing she did made a difference.  In Blacklander, our Claire will find out she can change things.

Twist:  The runaway slave that the slave patrol was hunting winds up in the 21st Century

Twist:  By the end of season one, Claire’s car is found in the river, confusing the locals.

 

And know for some lighter fare…

Working Title:  Toby’s Heroes

Genre:  Comedy, Steampunk?  Whatever Wild, Wild West was?

Hot Take:  Hogan’s Heroes meet…also Roots

Premise:  A few years ago I wrote about TV producer Kenya Barris (the creator of Black-ish) pitching a new diverse woke version of Bewitched. Although that show is still in development hell the idea of rubbishing through sitcom history and redoing the shows with a mostly black cast seems scrapping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to originality, but with enough diversity, you don’t need originality or creativity, diversity is our one and only value.

So if it’s that easy then let me pull Hogan’s Heroes out from sitcom history, set it during the Civil War, and have the “prisoners” actually be slaves on a plantation who are secretly helping the Union Army during the war, either by running sabotage missions, or helping run freed slaves and Northern spies and sympathizers through their underground railroad.  And why shouldn’t they have an underground tunnel system under the plantation?  Let’s see, a bumbling, vainglorious plantation owner, his wife, who is secretly having an affair with “Toby,” an overseer who “see’s nothing,” and occasional visiting Confederate troops, all seem to add up to woke hilarity.  Yes I know those two don’t usually go together, but that’s’ why I’m suggesting Hogan’s Heroes as the template rather than some of the more bland family sitcoms.

OK there are two good TV show pitches.  As usual, I only very humbly ask for producer credits and a percentage of the gross.  Let the racial healing begin!

 

Crisis of Infinite Earths: The Endgame of the Arrowverse

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m a big fan of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and the massive fan payoff that was Avengers: Endgame.  DC’s movie universe has not fared so well.  You know things are bad when the two biggest characters in their franchise, Superman and Batman, both get “fired” in the same month.  But on TV, it’s a different story…

The Arrowverse, the interconnected TV DC superhero shows that run on the CW network, have established a rather amazing, Marvel-like history and inter-connectivity with multiple superheroes, associated cast, and…well everything that Marvel accomplished on the big screen, although on a TV budget.  Starting with Arrow; that premiered in 2012 with one well trained vigilante, it’s spawned several more superhero shows, including this year’s freshman show Batwoman, multiple Earth’s, multiple aliens, and at least two god-like entities.

Now it looks like the CW is getting ready to Endgame their massive creation by adapting the comic book crossover classic Crisis on Infinite Earths. This is the biggest comic book event in history now on the small screen. The Crisis story is too big to summarize, but let me give it a try:  A mysterious godlike entity based on antimatter wants to destroy all the universes in the multiverse to amass more power, while another mysterious godlike entity tries to stop him by recruiting an army of superheroes from many different universes.  Great battles ensue that eventually leaves only a few universes intact, including the main “Earth” which has been combined with other earths.  There is a great cost in superheroes as both the Flash and Supergirl die in the crisis.

Whew…barely touched the surface, but you can see how daunting that is for the CW to pull this off with their “Arrowverse;” it’s collection of DC based TV shows that will be the focus of this 5 episode crossover event. The amount of planning across shows that have gone into this is nothing short of amazing.  All of the shows have been feeding bits and pieces of the story since their fall premieres, with Arrow, involved almost solely with Crisis related matters this season.  But of course, Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow, is destined to die in the crisis, which is another way of saying he didn’t renew his contract and the show is coming to an end.  However, a big crossover requires big stakes, and I’ll be sitting down munching popcorn when Crisis kicks off Sunday, December 8th on Supergirl.

Supergirl — “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One” — Image Number: CRS_S5__8x12_300dpi.jpg — Pictured: LaMonica Garrett as The Monitor, Ruby Rose as Batwoman, Audrey Marie Anderson as Harbinger, Brandon Routh as Superman, Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor, David Harewood as Hank Henshaw/J’onn J’onzz, Stephen Amell as Green Arrow, Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl, Grant Gustin as The Flash, Cress Williams as Black Lightning, Caity Lotz as Sara Lance/White Canary, Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory/Heatwave, Carlos Valdes as Vibe, Candice Patton as Iris West – Allen, John Wesley Shipp as Flash 90, Matt Ryan as Constantine, Bitsie Tulloch as Lois Lane and Tyler Hoechlin as Superman — Photo: The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.