Sunday, March 19, 2017

10 Things That Happened When the U. S. S. Enterprise Has Shore Leave at Deep Space Nine

A friend of mine had a birthday recently, and she had a general Star Trek theme. For the purpose of the event, I wrote up a TNG/DS9 crossover fanfic comedy routine, and I wanted to post it somewhere enduring. Thus, without further ado...

10 Things That Happened When the U. S. S. Enterprise Has Shore Leave at Deep Space Nine

1) Lieutenant Reginald Enidcott Barclay swore off holodecks, but decides that he can see one just once--he's on vacation, after all. So he goes down to the station to rent one of Qark's holosuites.
"Are you sure you can handle this?" asks Quark. "These simulations... they're a lot more intense than the ones you Federation people use."
Barclay scoffs. "Listen, I, I have put in more hours on the Enterprise holodeck than any three people combined. I... I can handle this." He says it again, to himself. "I can handle this."
"Well, ok." Quark hands him the disc for "Vulcan Love Slave, Part II: The Revenge." Barclay steps into the suite for his half hour session. No one on the Enterprise ever sees him again.

2) Odo asks for Deanna's advice in the gift he picked out for her mother. It's a replica 20th century flapper-style feather boa. Deanna, in the style of every first grade teacher who's had to evaluate a macaroni "I Love You Mommy": "..... She'll love it because it's from you."

3) Judzia and Worf invite Deanna and Riker to their quarters for a private dinner--or rather, Jadzia invites Deanna against Worf's better judgment, and Riker overhears and invites himself. Jadzia and Deanna quickly find they don't get along; they debate politics, and Jadzia finds Deanna's approach too manipulative, too passive, too indirect. Deanna, for her part, believes that Judzia is too aggressive and deliberately antagonistic. Finally, Worf intercedes, telling them there is no need to fight over him, as Jadzia has already won, and that they are both embarrassing themselves. There's a moment of silence, and then Jadzia comments, "you know, Worf, for someone who can be such a smooth talker when it comes to romance, you sure can put your foot in it." She turns to Deanna. "Did he try his line on you too? About being afraid of hurting you?"
Worf interjects. "Klingon mating is very physically--"
"He did!" says Troi. "Which is odd, because in actuality, he's such a tender lover."
They spend the rest of the night debating Worf's sexual prowess. Worf is so mortified he is still sitting silently at the table an hour after the dinner ends, frozen in embarassment.
Years later, Riker will remember the dinner as one of the best nights of his life.

4) DS9 Operations Chief Miles Edward O'Brien sneaks onto the Enterprise during the night shift. He goes to the transporter room, sets out his tools, and gets to work behind the console. The next day, the Enterprise transporter chief finds a surprise. Someone has welded a leather chair to the spot in front of his console, and left a big bow and a note: "You're feckin' welcome."

5) Qark runs into Guinan, and is instantly terrified. Years ago, she gave him some advice on running a bar, and by the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, she's entitled to half his profits unless he can convince her to admit he earned his success on his own. He attempts to wow her with his state of the art holosuites, his Tellarians-eat-half-off Tuesdays, his dabo tables. She is thoroughly unimpressed, until she runs into Morn, who orders his usual. Guinan: "Quark, I have been tending bars for longer than most civilizations have had star travel, and I have never, never met anyone as demanding, as particular, as downright picky, as Morn. I don't know what you're doing here, but if you've got him as your regular, you must be doing *something* right. Consider the rule satisfied." (Because of course Guinan knew exactly what he was trying to do the whole time.)

6) Ro Laren and Kira have a series of long talks about their hopes and dreams for Bajor, and start a friendship that will last the rest of their lives. Not everything has to be a joke.

7) Riker contracts a STI from a dabo girl, and gets it treated on DS9 because he doesn't want Crusher to know. Unfortunately for him, Dr Bashir is miffed that Riker doesn't immediately acknowledge him as an equally smooth ladies' man, and "accidentally" lets slip the information. Beverley knows how to let a good joke mature, though, so she waits until Riker's next annual check-up to say "and tell me, Will, are you still experience a burning sensation in your armpits?".

8) Q pays a visit, unable to resist the two teams in one place. He runs into Garak, who introduces himself and tricks Q into doing some low level magical favors him. Q figures it out, promises to ruin Garak's family and disappears, but this was Garak's plan all along: from the beginning, he figured Q would turn on him, which is why he gave his name as a member of a rival house in the Obsidian Order. Point for the tailor spy-master.

9) Jake tries to bond with Wesley Crusher (who is still on the Enterprise, despite it being at least season 4 DS9 if Worf's on the station--don't worry about it), but even he's annoyed by Wesley's know-it-all-ism. In desperation, he tries to get Nog to talk to Wesley, but Nog's own Starfleet-born competitiveness places them in a loop of one-upmanship. Finally, Jake abandons them both, and a month later, his essay on how Starfleet instills an atmosphere of unhealthy competitive elitism in its cadets gets published in a space-zine.

10) On the last day of the Enterprise's docking, the two teams play a friendly game of baseball. Geordi and Data get really into sabremetrics; Riker absolutely destroys his body to make amazing catches; Deanna gets really competitive and uses her empathic abilities to play mind games with the enemy team (Rom eventually needs to be carried out in a stretcher.) The Enterprise crew illustrates why they're the best and the brightest, perfectly fusing together as a team and effortlessly winning the game. But the Deep Space Nine crew have a lot more fun.

Later Days.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fish, Please: A Spoiler-iffic Review of Finding Nemo

I'll try to keep this one actually short. I watched "Finding Dory" on Netflix last night, and... it was fine, I guess. I think I came into the film with a net neutral opinion: I'm inclined to support Ellen DeGeneres in a lead role, but I also thought her character in Finding Nemo was pretty one note. She's given a bit more depth here, but overall, there's not a lot of depth to go around.

Elevating the sidekick to the main act isn't an uncommon choice for a sequel movie, but it is more uncommon for a sequel that gets fully supported by the studio. You can point to a lot of Disney products that spawned sequels, but the sequels themselves are almost always treated like spin-off products. I wouldn't say the world of Finding Nemo had a story left in it that was screaming to be told, but Finding Dory's premise--that Dory has remembered her parents, and wants to try to reconnect--is fine.

The format is more or less the same as the original--you have two groups that are majorly separated from each other, and both have adventures trying to get reunited. In the original, it's Dory and Marlin and Nemo; here, it's Dory and Marlin and Nemo. They meet occasional threats, but mostly just complicated scenarios, and a lot of colorfully weird ocean life. There's even the sidekick who steals the show--Dory in the original, and Ed O'Neill as Hank the octopus here.

The movie's approach to disability is kind of mixed. On the one hand, Dory's memory loss is presented as a condition she has to learn to deal with, and a lot of her flashback scenes with her parents involve them helping her develop strategies for that. That's... well, realistic isn't the right word for a movie where fish can breathe in any sort of water regardless of salt content, and a father fish calls his daughter cupcake in a world that clearly has no reference for him to do so. But at least it shows disability isn't a burden, but a part of your life. On the other hand, it's also strongly implied that if she works hard, her problem will go away, which is less reflective of real experience.

There's also an interesting tension between humans and animals here that never quite gets resolved. The marine center Dori's parents lived at focuses on "Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release," which is nice, and suggests a virtuous, ethical approach to marine life that emphasizes human responsibility to take care of those who we can. (Would that our own healthcare start with such a philosophy.) But it's worth noting we're told about this mission by Sigourney Weaver, and the celebrity involvement with the center illustrates how commercialized it is. Is there a conflict between caring for sealife and profitting off of them? Given the mass escape at the end of the movie, it seems to imply there is. (though surely some of those sea creatures were *not* suited for a return to the ocean, and just as surely, there was some human death involved in the octopod's aggressive driving. If nothing else, someone's going to suffer for the loss of the truck.)

The film raises these issues, but doesn't go very far out of its way to say anything about them. It's just a backdrop for general goofiness. And it does that goofiness pretty well, all things considered.

Later Days.