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Archive for the month “March, 2013”

What I learned from Star Trek

I am currently on Season 3 of the original Star Trek.  This means I’ve watched the previous two seasons already, and am on the third Season.   I’ve seen many an episode in my childhood during summer reruns, but from what I remember, they mainly consisted of Captain Kirk fighting with a poorly costumed swamp/desert monster, or Captain Picard being awesome.  So, I decided to be more fair to Captain Kirk and watch the old episodes from the beginning.  What I have to say about Star Trek isn’t particularly complimentary, and it probably repeats what other people have said in the past about Star Trek.  Be assured that while I am making fun of this show, I am in love with the Space Opera and pulpy goodness it presents.

There is a fantastic book that points all this stuff out and more and actually creates a thought-provoking and emotionally moving story all around it.  (I cried at the end.  It was that good) This story is called Redshirts
and is by John Scalzi.  If you haven’t read it and you love Star Trek, go get it now.  I’ll wait.

Back?  Okay.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

In the future they have flip phones, and no defibrillators

I have to say I was weirded out when I saw that they didn’t just press the little Star Trek logo on their suits to talk to the ship.  They have clunky – oft stolen flip phones instead.  I can see why they upgraded.

Also, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard “He’s dead, Jim” from Dr. McCoy.  This is coming from a man who can come up with the antidote for a plague from which he himself is suffering in like 24 hours.  He’s a goddamn miracle worker. C’mon Bones, don’t tell me “he’s dead” when you haven’t even tried basic CPR.

As a note, CPR in the old episodes is only used when convenient – meaning in one episode where Kirk loses his memory and thinks he’s a god because he can do CPR.

Bluetooths suck, even when you are trying to listen to “sub-space” waves

Poor Uhura is always holding the metal object in her ear like it’s hard as hell to hear through it, or it’s about to fall out.  I get sympathy pains in my ear just watching her.

I'm picking up something, Captain - which is a miracle with this shitty bluetooth

I’m picking up something, Captain – which is a miracle with this shitty bluetooth

“Environmental Readings” are just a fancy way of saying “Can we breath down there?”

You would think that if you were going into an alien atmosphere, you’d want to know if there are pathogens in the air that could kill you, or if there’s some kind of terrible plague that will infect you.  Just saying.

No one gives a shit about security on that ship

The Bridge has been attacked I don’t even know how many times from insane/ill/malicious people they let on board and they still only have ONE security guard outside of the elevator that goes up there, and he stands with his BACK facing the elevator.  This “security guard” is standing with his back to the only entry into the place where you control the entire ship.

An additional note to this: WHY WOULD YOU LET CRAZY/ILL/MALICIOUS PEOPLE ONTO YOUR SHIP??????!!!!!!!

The Captain is a sexy beast

There are only a few pity episodes for McCoy, Spock, and Scotty in which they get a girl.  In any other episode in which a girl is there to be gotten, the Captain gets her.  And, I’m sorry, but if someone tried to kiss me like he does, I’d slap his face.

At least they are done with the Femme Fatale being a plot device in EVERY SINGLE EPISODE like they had at the beginning.  I was starting to think the writers hate all women except Uhura, who is a rad singer, by the way.

Have you run out of monsters?  Just insert a chihuahua with a unicorn lion suit on.

No joke.

Who's a vicious beast? You are, that's who.  You little, teensy monster.

Who’s a vicious beast? You are, that’s who. You little, teensy monster.

My favorite character is Spock

I know, I’m sure I should be in love with Kirk.  I  think it’s because Spock is so unassuming.  He never wants command, he just wants to be Jim’s friend.  Also, he’s not drama.  The Captain has sooooo much drama.  There’s no “Dammit man, there IS no try!” from Spock.  His only reaction to something is likely to be a cocked eyebrow and “fascinating”.

Dr. McCoy: "The men died of a plague that melted their skin from their bones! We've got to do something!" Spock: "Fascinating"

Dr. McCoy: “The men died of a plague that melted their skin from their bones! We’ve got to do something!”
Spock: “Fascinating”

Although, while in one sentence I say how dramatic the Captain is, I love Scotty’s “I don’t think I can hold her much longer, Captain”.  Maybe it’s his Scottish brogue.  Or, maybe it’s my childhood crush on Geordi transferring to Scotty.

*Sigh* He's still a hotty

*Sigh* He’s still a hotty

Star Trek is still awesome

Why? Is it because I love pulp and space opera?  Probably.  I also have recently rewatched episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Twilight Zone, and The X Files – so what does that say about me?

In all seriousness, I think the genius of this TV show is that, even though they kill some poor red shirt every single episode, they develop main characters with whom you fall in love over and over again.  I don’t care that the actor who plays Spock has a real-life name.  I just want him to make good with his father.  I don’t want Lieutenant Uhura to die because she is awesome and is the voice of reason (besides Spock and Sulu).  I do care that Sulu is George Takei because he’s an awesome Facebook friend.

The point is, it’s not about the terribly plotted stories, but the characters.  I think any writer can take inspiration from that (not too much though – plotting is important too).


In All Seriousness… I Should Be Working

Good morning!  It’s Wednesday at 10ish AM and I am not working.  Instead, I am slacking and writing on this blog.  Why?  Because I feel brain dead, that’s why.

Seriously though, I work from home.  I have my own business.  While my husband is off, programming his way to riches beyond our wildest dreams (haha), I stay home and write blog posts and articles for other people.  In fact, I have four blog posts, three articles and an email to write.  Actually, I have more than that, but that’s what I have on my “To Do” list today.  But, I can’t get my mind wrapped around my work.  I have been bashing my head against the table trying to get my mind on my work all week long.

Why?  Did I drink too much on St. Patrick’s Day and now have a week-long hangover?  Am I just really shitty at self motivation? What is it?

Here’s the problem.  This is the story of my goddamned life: I started writing my fiction again.

I followed Mur Lafferty’s advice on I Should be Writing and I started logging my word count in The Magic Spreadsheet and I am now determined to finish the book I’m working on with my mom, the novel I have been writing for YEARS, the YA novel that I already wrote but probably needs a rewrite, and to submit two short stories a week until I run out of short stories in my back list.  Also, I decided that in April I’m going to try to figure out a theme that is something I like to write in, work on about 40,000 words of short stories, edit the hell out of them, and then collect them together in ebook form to sell on Amazon and whoever else will take me.  I’m even considering writing an extra special one and recording it podcast-style and making it a teaser for my collection.

“What’s wrong with that?” you may ask.  Others may say: “That all sounds amazing – go you!”

Yeah, well, here are the problems:

1. I am scared I’m not good enough.

This will make me sound like I’m manic depressive, but I swear it’s only my writing where I go through this arc in my writing.  Here goes:

Step 1: I write something.  My creative juices are flowing.  I’m the best writer ever.  I’ve created a person, a world, a MASTERPIECE!! I’m a BAMF.  I’m on a BOAT.  I’m the goddamn queen of the world.

Step 2: I reread my work.  I think, Oh my god.  This is fucking genius.  Everyone will love, understand and accept this work. I will win a Nebula, a Hugo, a Bram Stoker, the Campbell.  There can be only one and I am she.I am fucking awesome


If I have submitted, I am assailed by doubts immediately.  Is that story really good?  It’s probably a piece of shit and I’m too close to it to see.  That editor will blacklist me forever.  WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!?!  Oh, the humanity.

If I have done the sensible thing, I have set it aside for later rereading.

Step 4: I have received a rejection or have decided to edit it.  What the hell was I thinking when I wrote this story?  Am I insane?  Mentally challenged?  On drugs?  I don’t even know how to edit this.  It needs to be rewritten.

Maybe I shouldn't have just smeared blood on a page and sent it along. What kind of story IS this anyway?

Maybe I shouldn’t have just smeared blood on a page and sent it along. What kind of story IS this anyway?

Step 5: Okay, it’s been rewritten, I can edit it now.  I edit.  And edit.  And edit again.  I hate this story.  I hate editing.  I am a terrible writer.  But, it’s the best I can get it.

Step 6: I submit the story.  I am now so sick of the damn thing I can’t even look at it.  I hope someone else likes it.

Step 7: It gets rejected.  I edit it or change the title or do something else to try to make it better.  I submit it somewhere else.

Rinse and repeat.

That is my writing process.  Why does this interfere with my work?  Theoretically, once I am done with a project, or even done with that project for the day, I should be able to focus on other things.  That brings me to my other problem:

2. When I start writing, I don’t want to stop until my fingers have turned to bone, my eyesight is gone and I’ve become a hunchback.

My head is always in a story when I have begun writing.  For the first few days, I’m fine.  I can go about my day to day tasks with no problem.  I can zone out and listen to other people’s stories, I can watch TV, I can work.  But there is a point where my mind changes and all I want to do is plot, characterize, and write my story.  I ask myself – did I create that guy as a red shirt?  Oh no, what is her motivation?  Would this story be more interesting if the prince was really a princess?  What if snackfood tried to take over the world?  Why the hell does my character want to do that?  Do you think he’ll fall in love with the evil one, or the good one?  Should he fall in love at all?  What if a guy was stuck in space with limited oxygen?  What if there were space animals, like in Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monete’s stories?

And then I try to write about down to earth topics for my clients.

Don't I look sensible? Just ignore the hat.  Your down-to-earth blogging will be safe with me. Never fear.

Don’t I look sensible? Just ignore the hat. Your down-to-earth blogging will be safe with me. Never fear.

I have crutches which help me realize I’m not horrible – like The I Should be Writing Podcast, like George Takei on Facebook, like my friends and family who patiently read or listen to me read my stories.  But, that doesn’t help me stop thinking about my fiction.  What I really need is a month completely free of all responsibility to focus entirely on my writing.  But, would I write or would I get burnt out just doing my fiction all month?  Would I just be sitting and watching Star Trek reruns on Netflix?  I don’t know, and I probably won’t until I get a chance to make fiction writing my full time job.

This probably will not help anyone at all – but if anyone goes through what I go through in their writing process, let me know.  I would love to commiserate.

Back to work with me.

Trippin on Antibiotics

I just went to England to visit family.  Some members of my were sick when I visited and, when I returned, I was also ill – though the plague waited until I actually landed on American soil to show its ugly face.

So, I went to the doc and got antibiotics.  Now, I’m an all-natural girl.  If I can kill something with vitamins, I totally will.  So, when I went to the doc I had already tried the normal route of vitamins and sleep, and now had a double ear infection – I was hearing an echo in one ear of every sound heard by the other.  Weird, alarming, and surprisingly surround-sound.   Who needs Dolby when you have a double ear infection?  Not me.

Anyway, the doctor gave me amoxicillin – to which I am not allergic – in case there are any doubts.  He said when he handed it to me “this is a pretty strong prescription”.  The man was not joking.

Not only did the antibiotic knock me out, I started having lucid dreams.  So much so that reality didn’t really seem real and my dreams were way more real.  I have experienced this phenomena once before when I was more sick than my thermometer could tell me.  I tried reading a book and the words literally fell off the page and into a jumble in the margins.  I figured since the book wasn’t cooperating, I should sleep.  And sleep I did.

Anyway, the point is my extreme reaction alarmed me.  So, I thought, “Hey, I do research on the internet for a living.  Let’s see what the internet says about amoxicillin.”

My conclusion to my internet research – gross.

Here are some fun facts:

  • Amoxicillin is a penicillin antibiotic.  Penicillin was originally made from mold.  LSD is an extract from a mold that grows on rye and makes people trip.  Is there a connection?  Probably not, but that doesn’t stop me from making one in my mold-addled brain.
  • Side effects of amoxicillin include (and this is a “less serious” side effect, listed next to stomach and head ache) “swollen, black, or “hairy” tongue”.  GROSS!!!  If I have a swollen tongue, I’m seeing a goddamn doctor.  I don’t care how “less serious” that side effect is.  That is disgusting.   Thanks for listing it as “less serious”, Drugs.com.  Oh my god.

That’s all of my fun facts.  My point has been made.  I decided my dosage must be too high anyway, since my symptoms were listed in the serious side effects column.  So, I stopped taking it since one of my ears was okay now anyway, and waited for the other to get better with vitamins and such.

Lesson?  I’m not sure.  This makes me both want to read, and never ever want to read the side effects of any prescription.  It reminds me of a time I had appendicitis and was waiting to get a cat scan to confirm the xray results that said I did, for sure, have a swollen appendix.  The cat scan guy said “Oh, by the way, this can kill you” while pumping me full of glow-in-the-dark ink or whatever they put in you to make your organs show up.  At that exact moment, I could have used not hearing that.  I was in pain and had a fat needle pumping who knows what into me, so that a hospital could charge me more for triple verifying something both my doctor, me, and a thousand student doctors all agreed I had.

I guess the lesson is, even if you have serious side effects, at least your tongue isn’t swollen, black, or hairy.

PS: I normally put pics in my posts, but I’ll spare you anything gross. Instead, here’s a pic of a swan I saw in England.  Isn’t that better than a black and hairy tongue? The Queen's Swan

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