Friday, November 21, 2014

Roddenberry's Discarded Star Trek Pilot

I was only writing this blog to try and learn humor writing.  Humor's hard for me as I'm cranky while writing.  Blogs are passé, so I never gathered a huge following.  I did, however, gather a few seriously avid fans.

Seriously avid.  I had no idea.

A few months ago, I posted a piece I received from an anonymous whose email is "Hellz_Housekeeper." It was a synopsis of a proposed sequel to Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible Sing-Along Blog.  The email said I could do whatever I wanted with it.  That's all it said.  I tried emailing back, but heard nothing.

I was going to toss it (I had figured it was fake) but it's hard to come up with new material every week, so I threw it up here.  I'd kinda hoped I'd get a cease and desist letter from Mutant Enemy; it'd certainly boost my readership.  Sadly, I got no response.  Either what I got from Hell's Housekeeper was just fan fiction, or I didn't rate a response from Whedon.

I had forgotten about the incident until I was contacted by H_H again.  If met her at the Gilroy Starbucks, she'd give me something she'd taken from the Barrett house.  It took me a while to figure out what she meant by "Barrett house" (also which Starbucks, there are three near Gilroy).

Barrett meant Majel Barrett.  Majel Barrett was married to Gene Roddenberry.  Star Trek's Gene Roddenberry.
She also got to flirt with Spock
My reaction was immediate: I refused to post anything stolen.  Well, actually, my first reaction was to ask if we could meet somewhere closer.  Then I asked why she contacted me and not a news organization.  But then I told her I refused to post anything stolen.

She told me she didn't have a car, so had to meet in Gilroy, that she read my blog religiously (because she has good taste), and that she'd taken the script from Ms. Barrett's trash (so it wasn't technically stealing).

So I met her.  I've agreed not to mention her appearance or any other personal information that might lead the Bavarian Illuminati back to her.  Yes, you read that right, she's suffering a bit from clinical paranoia, or maybe she spends too much time online.  Anyway, for the price of a nonfat vanilla latte, she let me read this:

"Into the Beyond."  Oddly, he didn't hole punch or bind it.

It's a hand-typed manuscript from Roddenberry himself.  Look at the date.  February, 1965.  If you're not familiar with the original Star Trek, Roddenberry made two pilots.  The first one was filmed in late 1964 (called "The Cage") and was rejected.  They retooled the series with a new captain and created a second pilot in June of 1965 called "Where No Man Has Gone Before," which more people are familiar with.
Not so familiar with the original velour shirts.
This draft comes between those two pilots and varies significantly from the final pilot script.  Roddenberry was trying to be more advanced in his portrayals of technology, and Lucille Ball asked him to scale them back for the final draft.

H_H let me take a few pictures of script pages.  I think her hope is to generate enough interest to get a buyer for the whole script.  I'd like to post what I have, but I'm conflicted.  Is it unethical?  What do you think?  I'll go with the majority of what people think and post it next week if people want me to.

Note: I just realized this week is the 50th anniversary of the shooting of the first Star Trek pilot.  Now I'm more inclined to post it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Virgin Galactic and the 2014 Election

Virgin Galactic is a company dedicated to taking people into space.

Amidst all the furor of the last election, I went to see a movie called Nightcrawler.  It's a rough, thrilling, depressing-as-hell movie about a psychopath who films accidents and crimes for local television news.  

While he's trying to choose what to shoot, he gets this advice from Nina (Rene Russo):
We find our viewers are more interested in urban crime creeping into the suburbs.  What that means is a victim, or victims, preferably well off and white, injured at the hands of the poor or minority.
Because, of course, we only care when someone rich is harmed by the poor.

Virgin Galactic is a company dedicated to taking rich people into space.

Amidst all the furor of the last election, I read an article about the SS Eastland.  After the Titanic disaster, ships were required to have life rafts for all passengers.  Unfortunately the Eastland was already top heavy.  One day, as the passengers were boarding, it tipped over.  844 people drowned in minutes.

Why do we hear about the Titanic and not the Eastland?  The Eastland passengers were entirely poor, working-class families.

Virgin Galactic is a company dedicated to taking rich people into space for six minutes.

Amidst all the furor of the last election, Virgin Galactic's space ship crashed.  One pilot was killed, another seriously injured.

Virgin Galactic has a brilliant business plan.  For a quarter of a million dollars, you can fly into space.  For about six minutes, you're weightless.  Then, you come back down again.  Think about that for a moment.  Virgin Galactic believes they can make money selling six minutes of weightlessness for a quarter of a million dollars.

And they're right.  Even with a recent test disaster, even without flights currently ongoing, over 700 people have signed up to go.  700.  Do the math.

Virgin Galactic is symptomatic of what's wrong with the world.

In the aftermath of the last election, I sit at a Starbucks, drink my overpriced "coffee" and try to work out what happened.  Four billion dollars were spent and the senate changed hands.  We were all expecting it, of course.  It happens to every modern president in their second term.  However, it makes me wonder why people voted that way when, as I see things, the country was doing so well.

Why would we elect "the party of the rich?"

The best answer I can come up with is we worship the rich. 

The rich are rich because they deserve it.
The rich are rich because God loves them more.
The rich are kind.  The rich deserve tax breaks.  The rich deserve the best healthcare.  The rich deserve the best toys and food.
When the rich die, the nation grieves. 

When the poor die, they are mourned by their families.  Some die alone, piled into unmarked graves, their lives unwritten, not even a footnote in history to mark their passing.

And that is a problem I don't know how to fix.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Common Parlance: Nightmare Trailer Syndrome

I haven't defined a new term in a long time.
The Pumpkin King is insane.  For years, he's been making Halloween truly scary.  Gone are the costumes, the candy, the parties.  Halloween is now a festival of death, darkness, and fear.  Parents and children cower in their homes as monsters roam the streets at night. 
But it's not enough.  The King wants more.  He's going to destroy the other holidays, starting with Christmas.  With the help of Evil Scientist, he creates skeletal reindeer and goes out to impersonate Santa Claus.  Jack, the sole voice of reason and most hated man in Halloweentown, protests, but is ignored. 
Jack eventually reveals to his undead girlfriend that he is the rightful Pumpkin King.  Evil Scientist created the fake King and usurped his power.  Together they attack the usurper and save Halloween. 
This is the story of A Nightmare Before Christmas I expected when I saw the trailer as a young man. 

Note: Not the trailer I originally saw, but I can't seem to find it online.

It's the story I expected when I went to the film.  What did I get?

Nice songs.  Pretty animations.  A story about some weirdo who hates his job and, inexplicably, decides he likes it again.  A fight against a bag of bugs monster that was tacked on in the end to add dramatic tension.
"You're joking!  I can't believe my script."
I know Nightmare is a "beloved family classic," but bleah.  The film worked great as a poem, but without the songs and animation, it falls down as a story.

This is Nightmare Trailer Syndrome: a movie where the trailer is better than the movie.  Sadly, that's most movies these days.  We need a "Great Trailer/Bad Movie Film Festival."  Any suggestions of what trailers we would show?