Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Star Trek: The Last Generation

I've been marathoning Star Trek: The Next Generation over the last several months. I'm now on the seventh and final season. It's a really weird feeling.

ST:TNG premiered in 1987; I was born two years later in 89. So, with my dad being a huge Trek fan, I was born into and raised in TNG. It really had a huge effect on me. The reason I have a relatively voluminous vocabulary (as opposed to most others my age) is because of Star Trek. The way I think and solve problems is in some ways determined by growing up watching Star Trek.

The interesting thing is that since TNG comprises around 176 episodes and I've never sat down to watch them all in order before, I've only caught reruns here and there over the years, but never seen it all. There's always been another episode of TNG for me to see; some new corner of the final frontier that I've not yet glimpsed. But now I'm actually at the point where I will have actually seen all of it. Like in some ways, a chapter is closing on my childhood.

At the very least, I have three more Trek series (DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise) to work through, so there's another solid 450 episodes for me to watch.

And I suppose the message of Star Trek is that there is always some new unseen frontier; some new event on the horizon. There's a new Trek movie out next year, with some vague plans for a new series as well. I suppose for the ending of every chapter, there's always the beginning of another one.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

Lately I've been feeling a little down. A bit underwhelmed with life, as it were.

I got two As and two Bs in school this semester. It's not perfect, obviously, but it's the best semester I've had literally in years. Granted one of those years I wasn't even in school, but still. Considering just how far I fell previously, this is a really big victory for me. A stepping stone to greater things, as it were.
But at the same time, it's not quite enough. I can't exactly describe why, but it's not really fulfilling. I'm proud to be back on my academic feet, but it's not exactly filling me with happiness or satisfaction with life in general.

Cut to this morning. I wake up at 9:45, crawl out of bed, take a quick shower and get ready for church. As I'm getting ready to leave, my mom walks in, dressed as if she's about to go out somewhere.
Mom: "You going to church?"
Me: "Yup."
*I notice she's dressed for going out* "You going out somewhere?"
"I thought maybe we could go for breakfast, but if you're going to church then that's fine."

Now I think about this for a bit. She doesn't normally EVER want to eat out, let alone with me.
Me: "Well, we could go out for lunch."
"After you go to church?"
"Nah. It's okay. I just thought we could celebrate."
"Mothers' Day."
(internally) "O_O... uhh... uhhh...."

Yesterday I finally got a little cash in my wallet, so I figured for Mothers' Day I'd go and get my mom a card on my way home from church. But I forgot about that, and she's bringing it up now.
Back to today:
I somehow got out of that conversation, and my mom gave me her debit card to get groceries on the way home for a nice dinner. I left for church, but got stuck behind a train and arrived 20 minutes late. So rather than just walk in at the middle of the service, I just went across the freeway and went to Barnes and Noble to read Captain America comics for an hour. I also went and got a card for mom, grabbed some groceries, then went home.

When I got home, I gave her the card, then this exchange happened:
Me: "I promise I didn't forget Mothers' Day; I was planning on getting you a card today on my way home."
"Oh, it's fine, don't worry. I believe you. And it doesn't matter anyway."
"It is a privilege to be your mother, and that's what I'm celebrating. You don't need to give me things."
"... ... ...I think you're doing Mothers' Day wrong."

That was really weird. Like, on past Mothers' days I've dealt with my mother being extremely upset at a lack of gifts and/or appreciation. So this was odd. But still, it left me feeling better about life in general. My mom is literally the only family I have within a thousand miles, so not having her be disappointed in me is a good thing. It's something I'm not used to.

After that, I find out through facebook that my friends are having a get-together at Main Event to play bowling and laser tag. Now, at this point I have very little money left in my pocket, so I write back to the group:
Don't know if I can make it to bowling or laser tag, but if we end up doing something that doesn't require much money, then I'm totally there! (...I may have spent the last of my cash on a Mothers' day card and a bunch of Avengers-related merchandise....) But don't alter plans for me. If you do something awesome then just take lots of pictures. Especially if it's laser tag; I wanna see how that looks on camera.

A few minutes later, I get a message from Jeff:
Jeff: Hey brother if you want to come out tonight don't hesitate, I can cover you! For real!!!
Aaron: Are you sure?
Jeff: Totally!!!!!!!!!
Aaron: :) Oh, you. Being an amazing friend and all. Thanks a lot, man. I'll see you there.
Jeff: Sweet!!!!

I made sure my mom was cool with my taking off to go see my friends (she totally was), then I left. The rest of the night was pretty awesome. We played bowling for around two straight hours, which actually made my thumb a little sore. I don't think I know how to bowl correctly; I haven't even played in maybe eight years.

I played a couple of crappy games and a couple of pretty decent ones. Overall, though, I just really had fun.
Then we played laser tag. These were the player scores; mine are in bold:

Game 1:
Blue Team: 4110 
Player 01: 650
Player 02: 1880
Player 08: 1000
Player 03: 580
Yellow Team: 5370
Player 05: 1830
Player 06: 620
Player 09: 2570
Player 10: 350

Game 2:
Blue Team: 4960
Player 01: 190
Player 05: 1050
Player 06: 1210
Player 09: 2510
Yellow Team: 3340
Player 03: 990
Player 10: 990
Player 04: 1360

I got the highest score, by far, in both games we played, catapulting our team to the lead. And during the second game I actually had a guy just following me around and shooting me at point-blank for a bit of it. But I ended up crushing him with my laser blasts, so I didn't really care in the end.

What else happened? Oh. I made a sarcastic guess and ended up accidentally finding out that two of my friends are having a baby. That was cool; I'm really happy for them.
Another friend also called me up with a really good lead on a possible new job that I'm probably perfectly-suited for. So hopefully that pans out.

All in all, today was a good reminder that life really can be great sometimes. I got home at 11pm, exhausted, but totally happy. It's very very rarely that I can say I was satisfied with my day, but today was one of those times.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Temporarily Marvel

I'm a DC Comics fan. Always have been, always will be. And although I've been a huge fan of Marvel Comics as well, I've always had a lot of problems with their stories. They often get too dark for no reason, too soap-opera-ey, and seem to follow the creed of "the crappier we make life for our heroes, the more compelling our stories." It's a misunderstanding of the approach of Stan Lee, who always said "the way to make superhero stories relatable is to give the heroes problems." But there's a difference between creating conflict and simply beating the heroes down. One is compelling, the other is cheap storytelling done to provoke the reader. But I digress.

Simply, I've always preferred DC's stories and heroes over Marvel's. Heck, a small part of me wanted The Avengers to fail as a movie just because I didn't want Marvel to have the victory over DC. And yet, at this moment, I'm finding myself more a fan of Marvel than of DC.

You may recall that over a year ago, I wrote about DC Comics relaunching their entire line of comics. Well, it's been eight months since the relaunch, and things, overall, haven't gone well. Basically, several titles in the relaunch have been astoundingly good (Batman, Animal Man, etc), some have been very good (Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, etc) and the rest have varied between "pretty decent" and "terrible." It probably doesn't help that the handling of my favorite character, Superman, has been horrible. After eight months, there's been little-to-no character development for him, his relationships with his supporting cast like Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and the Kents are nearly non-existent, and I don't even feel like I know who he is as a person yet. It's a far cry from the last DC reboot, where John Byrne completely laid out, in full, the entire world of Superman in the first two issues, including his origin, his motivations, his powers, and his relationships. If you've ever seen the TV series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, that entire show was based upon John Byrne's Superman story.
The problem with Superman in the new DC universe is the same problem that the entire univers has, to a degree. DC has generally focused on telling action-heavy, in medias res stories, and as a result there's been very little worldbuilding. I can't mentally put myself into the DC universe because I don't really know much about it.

Furthermore, there haven't been too many good DC movies out in a long time. The Dark Knight Rises is coming out this year, which is cool, but aside from that the only other DC movie coming along is Man of Steel (yay!) which won't hit until next year. Actually, the only DC-focused things that are really holding my interest at the moment are the TV shows Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series, both of which are really well-done. But that's it, basically.

Meanwhile, Marvel has just released maybe the biggest superhero movie of all time, The Avengers, their comics are in a pretty decent place, and they've also got a decent cartoon on the air (Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. It's on Netflix; go watch it).

And right now, Marvel is just just a more fun place to be. I mean, The Avengers is a really fun movie that doesn't have any of the problems that normally turn me off from Marvel whatsoever. There's no paralyzingly stupid cynicism and no terrible plot twists. There's nothing but a celebration of heroism and fun.

I kind of feel like DC is a family member that's hooked on drugs and isn't making good life decisions. Until they get their act together, I'm gonna go hang at Marvel's place.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I totally forgot that I wrote this on the night of the Avengers' midnight release. Oh well. Here it is, exactly a week late.

11:15pm, May 3rd
Been in the theater since around 8:45. The theater manager came out at around 10 and started asking random trivia questions to members of the audience. The prizes for getting questions right were two movie passes and two loyalty cups (40oz cups the theater sells where they give you unlimited $1 refills).
He asked around eight or so people questions, and I got asked the last one. Probably helped that I had friends furiously pointing at me as I pumped my Captain America shield in the air.
The question: "What is the name of the Avengers' aircraft?"
My first thought: "I know this!"
My second thought: "Wait, why am I not remembering it?!?"
My third thought: "QUINJET!!!!"
Admittedly, not the hardest question for a comic book fan, but decent enough. One of the coolest moments for me as a geek thus far.

Too tired to write anything. Bed. Bed now.