Players and slayers.

Two things:

1. We’re possibly in store for what is essentially a big screen reboot of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, primarily because it doesn’t feature the creative mastery that is Joss Whedon. Or, one presumes, TV’s Buffy, Sarah Michelle Gellar. Though that does make one wonder: Kristy Swanson, where the fuck have you been hiding? But to a much, much less extent, the same question applies to you, Luke Perry.

2. Archie finally proposes to one of those tremendous ladies in his life. Ah, but which one? Betty or Veronica? Betty or Veronica? Betty or Veronica?

As you can see above, it’s Veronica.

I know, I know. You’re like, “But, what, huh?”

(Side note: Seriously, ladies? You can do anything in the world that you want, be anything that you want, and especially be with anyone. And you choose and choose to be defined by this dork Archie? I mean, I can’t respect anyone dating a guy named Jughead, for about a billion reasons (though they all start with the fact that he’s named Jughead), but even he seems to have more going on than Archie. Look, Betty and Veronica, this is all I’m going to say and then I’m gonna forever hold my tongue: Archie’s a fucking stain on your life, all right?)

I find both of those developments fascinating. The Archie thing is kind of built upon so much history between these continuing characters and it’s quite frankly a development that no one probably gives a shit about. I mean, first of all, hardcore Archie fans: Who the fuck are you people? Secondly, if you had woke up the other day and this marriage thing had never shown up, you’d still be sucking like normal, right? Right.

And the Buffy thing is just weird and stupid. Granted, Joss Whedon is busy with Dollhouse and Cabin In The Woods, and the Buffy comic book (season 8), but still. We must’ve crossed the threshold from one generation to another in the last few years with the frequency in which we reboot/restart things.

I’m not going to lie you here, but you scare me to death, Generation Reboot. Because my life is in your hands. I feel like Spock (Prime) in J. J. Abram’s Star Trek restart. I’m time traveled back to now to save the motherfucking universe from impending doom and the pre-rebooted Hulk, but everything’s different. Everyone’s younger, different, and slightly less charismatic. And I’m supposed to be okay with it. I’m not, but I should be. I have to be.

The Final Frontier/Black holes and revelations.

Here’s a scenario for you: Each day you get up, you eat something, you check your favorite website, and you masturbate (maybe not to your favorite website, but no one would blame you for it). Then you go do whatever it is you do, you laugh, you cry, you live a life both anxious and boring. You probably masturbate again and check your favorite website again (I’ll leave the order of those two up to you) and you go to sleep, dreaming your dreams of a bright future.

And here’s a thought for you: Twenty years from now, or maybe less as the novelty wave winds down to zero, someone will come along and remake your life. Or reboot it. It will start again, only it’ll be better told, faster and sharper, more to the point and simpler to digest for the tastes of the particular audience it’s made for. And it’ll have a brand new cast, younger and sexier. Time to start thinking about who will someday inherit the role of you, right?

It’s a thought that occurred to me during a viewing of J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the Star Trek franchise on Friday afternoon, and I intend it only half as an editorial on the film itself, and half as a comment on the times we live in. It’s sad that people truly believe there’s “no more original stories left to be told.” To me, that notion is suicidal. Life is all one original story that’s as yet untold. Sure, sometimes history repeats, and sometimes things are built on and referenced back to, but new and different things happen all the time. It’s up to you to either shape them or be shaped by them.

But that’s a story for another time. The story at hand is the new Star Trek movie, directed by J. J. Abrams and written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.

On one level, this is an incredibly fun movie. It’s fast paced and funny, sometimes very exciting, and looks absolutely gorgeous on the big screen. A perfect introduction to this brave new world for someone who’s never ventured there, which was certainly the film’s prime directive. There’s a ridiculously cool number of lens flares all over the picture, but it’s a treat of beauty, both in story, cast, and the majesty of special effects and high minded enthusiasm in exciting science fiction.

On another level, there’s a ridiculous story a la Superman Returns (why doesn’t Nero start off by going and destroying that fucking star pre-supernova somewhere in that quarter of a century that he’s got to himself, and mind you, that must be a really big supernova, but hey, whatever)(I’ll guess we’ll just classify this under the Whatever happened, happened category), and while the film succeeds in the fun and exciting-ness, it never really feels like any of the characters are in any real danger. And in the end, you’re left with the same feeling you had walking out of Batman Begins: “How, that was cool. Now I want to see an actual Star Trek film!”

In fact, there’s black holes all throughout this film, some in the story and some in the plot itself. Some interesting things come popping out of them, both in the story and plot, but some interesting things also get sucked right back into them.

On one hand it’s very clear that the filmmakers wanted to do a reboot without having to actually do a reboot. There’s a nice meta-moment as the characters discuss what’s going on in their lives and actual come to a realization that they’re in an “alternate reality,” which I found fascinating. The film kind of dabbles in homage (which is now an art form all of it’s own) to the nostalgia and tropes of the original incarnation of the franchise, but without quite inspiring some of it’s own or understanding it.

The want for adventure from the original version is definitely here, but not the desire for exploration (which is fine since they’re trying to get a new franchise off the ground) or the high minded adult science fiction loftiness. It matches the original’s space opera qualities so perfectly, but also matches it’s campiness uncannily. Just the mechanics of things involved would give you pause in a more serious setting and make you wonder how some of this bunch would inhabit the jobs and roles they have. For example: Chekhov, a 17 year old constantly being left in charge of this great big starship when the others go off to play? That’s very interesting.

The cast: Over all, not too bad. Zachary Quinto, of Heroes fame (is that show still on?), brings a certain sense of humanity to very important role of Spock here but loses a little of Leonard Nimoy’s authoritative stance, I feel. Chris Pine as Kirk is not so bad, essentially playing the Kirk here as what he’s written as: A farm boy shit kicker who throws himself into pyrrhic victories that are too big for him, and he often gets his ass handed to him or finds himself hanging off a ledge somewhere.

Anton Yelchin, who’s character is a ridiculously accented boy wonder, and Karl Urban are actually both pretty good at the homages they play to their predecessors while still doing something new and making their roles interesting. Zoe Saldana, looking gorgeous in her sexy military outfit that’s laughably military) gets to do more than her predecessor ever got to do with the role, even when she is basically left as the supportive girlfriend in the second half of the movie.

I mentioned his authoritative stance in the role, and Leonard Nimoy is a treat to have back on the screen, proving just what I mean. He’ll always be the character of Spock, here called “Spock Prime,” and Quinto will always be the second guy to play the role, no matter how comfortably his falls into it. But regardless of that, watching Nimoy’s scenes, you have to be grateful that they didn’t make the obvious mistake of bringing back Shatner.

Simon Pegg seems to have a ridiculous amount of fun in his role as Scotty, the miracle worker of an engineer, and John Cho is decent, not great nor terrible, as Sulu, the Japanese man here played by a Korean man who was always sadly meant merely as a stand in for all Asians in this space version of Wagon Train. And then there’s the cameos: Tyler Perry as the head of Starfleet, or at least Starfleet Academy (because I hope that Starfleet would have better things to worry about than some cheating cadet), Rachel Nichols as an Orion (slave) girl, Ben Cross as Sarek, Spock’s dad, and Winona Ryder, totally wasted as Spock’s human mother.

And then there’s Eric Bana, of course, as the underwritten yet slightly over the top villain with a grudge from the future, Nero. Good name but things don’t seem to really jibe with him. But really, he’s just the excuse to get things rolling, to get the ball in motion, as it were. And sadly, all Star Trek villains tend to be an afterthought.

I guess my hope coming out of this is for another Star Trek TV show, but a good one. A modern one that doesn’t always play it safe or by the same formula. Something with production values worthy of it and a certain seriousness attached. Not with these characters, mind you, but something new, and something where you can take the time to become friends with the characters since here, as with all Star Trek movies, you’re just getting a few key moments with the caricatures of characters you’ve always loved.

Either way, with the depths of unwatchability and lack of popularity this franchise has been sinking into in the past decade or so, this reboot was always inevitable. They tried a pretty similar “Academy years” type idea back in the early 90s and something similarly militaristic just a few years ago. But the best course of action possible was this one, handing the franchise to Abrams and his stable of writers, including the guys from Fringe and Damon Lindelof from Lost. Casual or non fans or not, these guys (Lindelof more so than Orci and Kurtzman, obviously) make smart fiction and don’t do anything lightly. And it’s nice that Abrams gets to redeem himself for a lot of the negative online comments thrown at him for his rough draft script for Superman: Flyby.

Long story short, this is a big dumb wonderful popcorn type flick and worth the viewing. It’s wonderful escapism and you should check it out and enjoy it. It will boldly take you where a lot of people have gone before, but it’ll do so in a fun way, showing you bright new things.

When in Rome…

“Vivo!”

-Caligula (his last words, screamed out as he was being murdered by his own soldiers, which translates as “I live!”).

About a week ago I was bored at work (which really isn’t news or anything new) and my boss and I got to talking about old TV shows. Eventually it came to her saying to me with quite a bit of disdain, “You’ve never seen I, Claudius before? Really?”

I just shook my head and shrugged. “The Roman?” I asked, seeking clarification, but pondering for a moment if it was a show about Hamlet’s stepdad (though in addition to playing the Master in Doctor Who, Derek Jacobi, who plays Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus or Claudius I in the miniseries, did go on to play Claudius in Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 version of Hamlet)(Brian Blessed, who is wonderful as Augustus in the miniseries was also wonderful as the ghost of Hamlet’s papa).

“Yes, the Roman,” she told me and thrust a VHS copy of the first two episodes into my hand (thankfully, we have a VCR at work)(old school). “You’re in luck,” she said. “This is the unexpurgated copy. The stuff they couldn’t show on PBS.”

“PBS?” I asked, already doing a bit of online researching as we talked, finding out that this BBC miniseries was based on the novels by Robert Graves. “Like Masterpiece Theater?”

“That’s right,” she said.

Me: “What could possibly be in a BBC miniseries that couldn’t be shown on PBS?”

Her: “Tits. Lots of them. You’ll love it.”

Well, it’s a week later and I’m several episodes into the twelve part  miniseries and enjoying it quite a bit. First, you should probably know that my boss was quite right about the casual abundance of breasts on display: Everything frome a topless quartet of beautiful African women dancing for the pleasure of the Roman court in the second scene of the first episode all the way to a character casually pulling out the breast of a female guest of an orgy in third episode seeming specifically for the camera to take notice of. Ah, good times.

But, especially, the drama on display with these crazy scheming Romans is just amazing. The cast is top notch, with the aforementioned Derek Jacobi as the eponymous Claudius and Brian Blessed as Augustus, but with the added talents of William Hurt as Caligula and Siân Phillips as the ruthless and calculating Livia, wife of Augustus, and called Augusta by Claudius. And George Baker, Patrick Stewart, Simon MacCorkindale, Ian Ogilvy, and John Rhys-Davies are all in there too, all of them joyfully chewing up the scenery in the way that only fine British actors can.

Plus, for me, there’s just the fact that one of my favorite movies is The Lion In Winter, that perfect center point where trash talk, infidelity, scheming, and what would be today called sociopaths who are horny to keep their power meet up quite nicely with brilliant acting. Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn give performances so good in their roles of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, so infused with majesty and venomous power, that you can almost suspect that they’re about to just orgasm  in the middle of scene after scene. Either them, or myself, on the edge of my seat as I watch them, riveted. I don’t know what others call that, but I call it art.

But as for I, Claudius, in it’s own fine, wonderful way, this excellent show is just pure trash. And I love me some trash TV.

Henry the VIII aside, do you get the impression that Jonathan Rhys Meyers is really just playing himself in The Tudors?

And it has to make you wonder when you watch shows like it or Rome (and I’d like to see a similar fate to Mussolini’s befall whoever chose the bottom line over renewing Rome) or whatever the hell is going on with The Tudors, if all of the past rulers of the Earth were insane, murderous, sexually insatiable monsters by divine right. But, I guess years of inbreeding and never being told “No” might due that to you.  But, while I love the tales of the greeks and the way the mortals wrestle with their metaphorical gods, I think I prefer the gluttonous Romans, because their lives do make for some good, dirty storytelling, don’t they?

It’s just like they say, all roads lead back to Rome, la città dei sette colli.

My favorite Roman emperor, as I said, is probably still that bizarre little imp Caligula, but possibly also Constantine (the Great), but I am also fascinated by Nero, but mostly because he was, in all likelihood, The Beast (666!). If I had to guess, I’d wager that Julius Caesar would be Benjamin Light’s choice, and my friend who I just discussed this with tells me that he’s a Marcus Aurelius fan, seriously, but right now I want to ask you: Who’s your favorite Roman emperor?

Blogging for peace is like screwing for virginity.

While sliding my way through the bookstore yesterday, I came across a book entitled 100 Decisve Battles: From Ancient Times To The Present by Paul K. Davis and I sat down for a moment to flip through it’s pages. At the very beginning of the book is a fascinating quote by Robert Heinlein:

Anyone who clings to the historically untrue – and thoroughly immoral – doctrine that violence never settles anything I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke Of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler would referee. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at it’s worst. Breeds that forgot this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms.

That quote has been stuck in my head through most of the night. I’d love to argue with it, declare that it’s wrong, but honestly… it’s not. It’s just not. In a perfect world, words alone, mightier than swords, could move men and mountains at the same time. And in a way, words do, I guess. The words push the money and the money moves the soldiers and the violence and the violence, typically, changes the world. For better or worse, well… I just don’t know.

I’m several days late to the party, but I just noticed this picture this morning:

The front page to a fake New York Times (check the date), and apparently, there’s over a million copies of it out there. Thank you, Yes Men. It’s an incredibly striking image and, Jesus, wouldn’t it be nice if that headline was true? Let’s hope it becomes true under the reign of a President Obama administration because I tell you people, I’m this close to singing “Imagine” on a street corner here.

Interesting enough (to me anyways), the first battle listed in the Paul Davis book is the battle of Meggido. The first battle of Megiddo, that is (there’s been quite a few), even though Davis has the much publicized wrong date listed.

Megiddo, I have to say, fascinates me, and you want to know why? It’s silly and crazy and laughable and oh so simple. Have you ever heard of a little thing called Armageddon?

And, no, no, I don’t mean that simply kickass Michael Bay movie. I mean, the biblical end of the world. Yeah, that old thing. As described to us in the Book of Revelation in that well know anthology of Christian short fiction. Well, the word “Armageddon” comes from the hebrew words har megiddo, which literally mean “the mountain of Megiddo.” And on Megiddo was where one of the toughest, meanest Roman battalions were stationed and that was where John was instructing 1st century Jews and Christians to first rise up against the Roman empire. This basically all went down in the year 70 AD, or thereabout. Oh, and with The Beast (of 666 fame, though it’s actually 616) was Nero (or Caligula, some think, which is just kind of funny cause… I mean, “Little Boots” as The Beast, ha ha), according to gematria, a common practice at the time.

In 1820, Thomas Jefferson released his edited version of the bible and omitted the Book of Revelation entirely, considering it “merely as the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherence of our nightly dreams.”

War. Violence. Bible humpers who furiously masturbate at the thought of the world ending in a flame retarded final battle between Barry Gibb and Pan… It’s all just too fucking crazy, man.

So, in conclusion, I ask you fine people…WAR, what is it good for?

Good God, now!

A 13 year old girl became the latest suicide bomber in Iraq.

Thousands flock to see the return of the 17 year old boy thought to be the reincarnation of Buddha.

Ninjalistics, your top quality provider of corporate assassination and sabotage solutions.

High school girl suspended for wearing Obama shirt to school.

Is open-sourcing the key to winning the high tech war on terrorism?

I stole a good deal of these links from Warren Ellis’ website, which is fitting since he wrote a graphic novel extrapolation of the battle of Crécy not too long ago.

It’s okay not to believe in God.

Make love, not war!

A collection of good and interesting war quotes, including this one by Eve Merriam: I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?”