The Perks of Being a Picard

Picard - Earl Grey

Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

In 2011, I married the love of my life – Mr. Picard.  No, not that Picard.

My parents are long-time Trekkies, though I don’t think I necessarily loved the series in the way they would have preferred.  I am much more attached to the Star Wars universe (a mutual love of SW is actually how I met my husband).  I remember growing up watching videotapes of classic Star Trek episodes and trying to pry open my father’s glass display case, which contained a commemorative anniversary plate and replica phaser.  Numerous autographed pictures hung proudly on the wall of Leonard Nimoy,  Jonathan Frakes and of course, Patrick Stewart.

So you can imagine the day I called my parents to tell them that I was getting married.  “Oh really?!”  My father’s voice lifted and I could practically hear a twinkle in his eye.  “You’ll be Mrs. Picard.”  I didn’t think I could make him any happier until he said, “If he owned a boat, we could call him Captain Picard.”

Did I mention my father in law actually owns a boat?  I know as nerd offspring, I couldn’t have married a better surname (well, except Solo, maybe).

If you think being told repeatedly that you have an awesome last name would get old, well, you would be wrong.  I can’t wait to go to a convention one day with the name tag “Mrs. Picard” and not even have to pretend.

My husband and I have discussed children’s names – I have to admit I was a bit reluctant at first, but I finally caved to naming any future  boy “Jonathan Lucas Picard”.  I am hoping it is not so nerdy that the kid will be teased, but just nerdy enough that anyone cool will “get it”.  I look forward to many knowing smiles.

As the icing on a deliciously nerdy cake, my husband and I are avid tea drinkers.  I anxiously await the day I finally give in and buy this:

Yes, this does exist!

Yes, this does exist!


The Trouble With X-Men…

X-Men is one of the great nostalgic franchises of our generation. It’s been going since the sixties, but most of us carry a torch for those rascally mutants from the classic cartoon of the early 90’s and the blockbuster Singer films from the 2000’s. For some, this was our first introduction into the world of science fiction, a world which did not shy away from dealing with heavy themes – that of bigotry, prejudice and intolerance. As children, we marvelled at a medium which had the respect to treat us like adults, while having elements that were simply fantastical – giant killer robots, gravity-defying planes and people with amazing powers. Everyone has a favourite X Man; mine include Gambit, a man capable of making a Cajun accent appealing, and X-23, the female clone of Wolverine, who is a universally acknowledged general badass.
However, as you grow up you start to notice a few problems with the X-Men universe, problems which are ignored in the franchise because they’d pretty much be gamebreakers.

People are right to hate mutants.

Yeah, I said it. People in the Marvel universe have every right to hate mutants and demand they be registered. One of the main themes of the X-Men universe is that they are a metaphor for whatever mainstream prejudice society is currently exhibiting; in the sixties, they were a metaphor for the civil rights movement, and currently, they represent the struggles of the gay rights movement in America. There’s just one small catch with this though: there are perfectly justifiable reasons to want mutants to be registered and watched by the government. Mutants are dangerous! Just look at our heroes – there’s a woman who can control the weather and therefore kill an entire country, there’s a guy who likes killing everything and pretty much lives forever, and there’s a man who can kill everyone in the world with his mind. And who are they constantly fighting? A man who with the power of magnetism, in the Ultimates universe, moved the moon to cause a tidal wave that killed hundreds of thousands of people! Fearing mutants is entirely justified, and the metaphor of a wrongly treated people, hated simply because they are born a certain way, just does not fit with the characters presented.

And yet other mutants are not hated.

On the other side of the coin, there are mutants in the Marvel universe who are not hated and are accepted in society quite happily. Take the Fantastic Four, for example; they were mutated into their superhero forms through travelling in space and are perfectly accepted by the American public. Or let’s take a look at the star spangled man with a plan, Captain America. The super soldier serum changed his body, mutating it even. Then why are his extraordinary abilities which could potentially be used to hurt a lot of people not hated and reviled? What is the difference between being born with a mutation or developing one in later life? And here is the problem – the major antagonism of the X Men stories is not tonally consistent with the rest of the Marvel universe. In terms of co-existing with the rest of Marvel’s output, be it in comics, games or films, the X-Men just don’t seem to fit in with the rest of them.

No one stays dead.

This is the great joke of the medium. ‘”No one stays dead in comics except for Jason Todd, Uncle Ben and Bucky.” (well, only one of those are still dead now) But it’s a very valid criticism to make. It’s hard to write stories or events leading up to an epic conclusion where you might kill characters off when your readers don’t think it’s going to go anywhere – sure, Jean Grey might die again, but she’ll pop up again within a year. Writers of comic books are constantly thumping down on that reset button. Why not let that button rest a little? Instead of having this constant nostalgic desire to see the characters you grew up with fight and interact, why not move the story on and let it develop like any other? Change and innovation don’t have to be bad things, and yes, it’s a pretty huge game changer for Professor X to die for real and the death to stick, but it would give the writers a fantastic opportunity in story telling – and it’s the story that should matter. And really, they should let characters stay dead as a matter of compassion; poor old Jean Grey must be exhausted, popping out of her open coffin so often. Won’t you give the girl a break and let her rest?


6 Reasons to See the Twilight films (And 1 Reason Not To)

The Twilight series, love it or loathe it, pushes itself into the sci-fi genre by claiming that the vampires are science based (while using magic and supernatural abilities).  And love them or loathe them, there are reasons to watch the film series.

6. Michael Sheen is fabulous.

I really believe they were starving him on set judging by the huge amounts of scenery he devours in these films.  Any film with Michael Sheen in is instantly enjoyable and the Twilight films are no exception. He hamms it up wonderfully.

5. There is a build-up to the climax and actual action scenes in the films.

Content aside, one of the major problems with the plots of the Twilight books is that they go nowhere.  There is very little build-up to the climax, which fizzles out with a whimper, avoiding actual confrontation or action.  In the films, this is completely changed.  The climaxes are actually foreshadowed and worked towards in the films.  Instead of just focusing on the Cullens obsessively, the villains and their nefarious schemes are introduced and developed (well, developed as well as they can be).  And in the third act, action scenes actually happen.  Heads get popped off.  People get set on fire.  Fighting actually happens.

4. The racism is turned way down.

The books are full of Unfortunate Implications on the racism scale – uh, the vampire venom ‘bleaches’ skin pigments – but luckily, they ignore this in the films and have vampires of ethnic backgrounds actually, you know, keep their ethnicity.

3. Fanservice for everyone!

Like any other teen flick, the Twilight films come stuffed full of eye candy, in any flavour people might pick.  From gorgeous models-

- to the abtastic -

- to the petite and pretty -

- to the older gentleman.

If the less-than-stellar plots don’t enthral you, the people on screen will at least distract you.

2. The screenwriters actually turned them into people.

The characters in the Twilight series suffer from a terrible condition known as Cardboardis Extremis; that is, the characters are just that – characters.  They never feel realistic as they never act like people; they don’t seem to have strong feelings on anything, and have a few personality traits to buoy them up through the stories.  In the films…. Well, I honestly think the screenwriters need some awards because they turn these characters into genuinely believable, sympathetic and above all human characters, not cardboard cutouts, that we can relate to and cheer for.  Examples include Bella taking a cactus with her from Arizona, showing an interest in something other than Edward, her school chums actually having personalities, and above all, the Cullens actually having fun together as a family.  Seriously, they actually smile. Having them relatable as people makes a big difference.

1. These are the funniest films you will ever watch.

Like any bad movie, the Twilight films are hilarious to watch.  They are incredibly enjoyable in their badness.  Seriously, some of the best evenings I’ve had with my friends has been watching the Twilight films and riffing them.  They make for a most excellent evening.

And the one reason not to…

1. It’s still Twilight.

Honestly, what else did you expect me to say?  The plots are bad, the characters are still insipid, and there are still the unfortunate implications of racism, elitism and domestic abuse.  The acting and dialogue are still atrocious.  There are some good points, but they are outweighed by a whole load of bad. Now excuse me, but I must cleanse my brain after having to look up all these images.


Dalek Announcer at Train Station

Just found this on Facebook this evening.

It’s Nick Briggs, the man who voices the Daleks, doing train announcements at Slough station in Berkshire, UK.

Pretty damned terrifying if you were a tourist, or had never heard of Doctor Who…

Edit: further footage!


Star Wars Detours Trailer

You’ll either love or hate this… An animated comedy series set in the Star Wars Universe, and featuring most of the movies’ characters from both prequel and sequel generations.  So plenty of Vader, Han, Obi-Wan… and Jar-Jar.  Although Jar-Jar looks set to be treated on screen with as much disdain as many felt he deserved the first time around!  Some of it’s pretty amusing though.


If you can take  it for what it is, then you should enjoy it.  Provided it can be consistently funny, and since they’ve apparently hired some of the Family Guy, Simpsons and The Daily Show writers, you never know!