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Star Trek at The Alamo
Geeking out

First, I want to write a little about the Alamo Draft House, which is a local Austin theater chain (though it has expanded). I really enjoy going there for movies for the atmosphere, which includes:

  • No children under 6 (unless otherwise noted)
  • Food and drinks
  • [Sometimes] themed food and pre-movie entertainment relating to the movie (my friends went there for the Indiana Jones opening and there were snake handlers with rattlesnakes and a cobra ^_^)
  • Playings of old good and/or cult classic movies

They also often organize shows, parties, and other events, including organizing the recent Austin branch of the largest [worldwide] Thriller dance event. I have been told they are one of the most profitable theater chains in history.

Anywho, I was there yesterday for the first showing (7pm) of the new Star Trek movie. Since I’m not a movie critic, I won’t say more than the fact that I thought it was absolutely spectacular, and Alamo’s pre-movie Star Trek themed clips were hilarious. I do however want to share their themed food menu.

Alamo Star Trek Food Menu

I think I went a bit overbored on the themed drinks. I had the worst headache afterwards x.x;
Alamo Star Trek Food Receipt
Video Game Nostalgia
And Metal Gear Solid Problems

So a comic [Gunnerkrigg Court] that I enjoy and read daily [updates MWF] recently referenced Metal Gear Solid, which finally made me decide to play through the series.

For reference, whenever I bring up games from here on out, it’s usually to talk about encountered problems, which I will usually provide fixes for, or technical aspects of the game. I’m not qualified, or funny enough, to want to review games; and that is not the purpose of my postings here.

The first thing I wanted to mention is a fix for a graphical problem. As the game is rather “old” (released in 2000 for Windows), it can be incompatible with modern systems. One of the options it uses in hardware mode is 8-bit textures, which is no longer supported, though for the life of me I can’t see why a hack could be made in the video card drivers for this problem. Because of this, the game only allows you to run in software mode. After a lot of digging and searching, in which every place said the same thing (it’s not fixable), I finally found a hacked executable [Metal Gear Solid v1.0 [ENGLISH] No-CD/WinXP+Vista+GeForce+ATi Fixed EXE] made by a kind sole to fix the problem.

Another problem which really frustrated me was a “puzzle” in the game referring to looking for information on the “back of the CD case”. I had just received an “optical disk” in the game, however, it appeared to be a floppy disk and no matter what I did I couldn’t find the required information with the item. I figured it must have been a bug and finally gave in and looked it up online. It turns out they meant the actual CD case the game came in had a number [radio frequency] written on the back of it - “140.15”. I can only assume they did this as a means of “copy protection” to frustrate anyone who didn’t actually buy the game. Unfortunately, I acquired the game without a CD case so I was frustrated by this myself.

This kind of system reminded me of the very old days of gaming in which some games asked you to input a certain word from a certain paragraph on a certain page of the manual to enter the game, or asked questions with answers found in the manual. One of the games I had that did the former was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [1989] for DOS. I have fond memories of playing this and a (monochrome? [green and black :-) ] IIRC?) version of Muppet Adventure: Chaos at the Carnival [1989] (Dear Thor! heh) [also a DOS game] as they were, IIRC, two of my first video games, though I got many others around that time. Both games had later released NES ports too.

My real favorite childhood games however, which are still both cult classics, were Doom, which got me into the design aspect of making games, and most importantly, ZZT, which is what really got me started on programming in 1991 at the age of 5. I still have the original floppy disks for ZZT too :-). ZZT was more scripting than programming though, and I didn’t start real programming until I got into QBasic in 1993. I might release some of my creations for these games one of these days for nostalgic sake ^_^;. I also remember thoroughly enjoying Star Trek: 25th Anniversary for DOS in 1992 :-). I was a nerd even as a kid! ^_^; This game also had copy protection I had forgotten about. As Wikipedia tells:

The game had a copy-protection system in that the player was forced to consult the game’s manual in order to find out which star system they were supposed to warp to on the navigation map. Warping to the wrong system would send them into either the Klingon or Romulan neutral zones, and initiate an extremely difficult battle that often ends with the destruction of the Enterprise.

[Edit 8/16/2008 @ 10:05pm] Pictures of some of this stuff can be found in tomorrow’s post, “Ancient Software”.
Reoccurring Actors
And notable roles

So I’ve been rewatching lots of old shows over the past few years that I watched as a kid and remember enjoying.  The latest reinstallment of this pattern would be Disney’s Gargoyles.  It’s still a lot of fun to watch even though the antagonists’ plots are a little... unbelievable sometimes :-).  The main reason I wanted to mention it though was the fact that it has a plethora of star trek actors, mostly from Next Generation, showing up in it.  Hearing familiar voices I recognize always makes me smile, especially when put to animated characters.  The ones I’ve recognized so far are:

Actor NameGargoyles RoleStar Trek Role
Jonathan FrakesXanatos (Main antagonist)Will Riker
Marina SirtisDemonaDeanna Troi
Michael DornColdSteel (One of Goliath’s rookery brothers) + Tarus in “The New Olympians”Worf
Brent SpinerPuck (Yes, Oberon/Titania’s fairy)Data
Nichelle NicholsDiane Maza (Female Cop’s mother)Uhura (OST)
Colm MeaneyMr. Dugan in “The Hound of Ulster”Miles O’Brien
Kate MulgrewTitania & Anastasia (Fox’s Mother)Katherine Janeway
Avery BrooksNokkar in “Sentinel” (Digitally enhanced)Benjamin Sisko
LeVar BurtonAnansi the spider in “Mark of the Panther” (Digitally enhanced)Geordi LaForge
John Rhys-DaviesMacBethLeonardo Da Vinci (Voyager... hey, he counts for Star Trek!! XD)

But of course, many of these actors have played dozens to hundreds of other rolls and deserve to be known for more than just Star Trek, including recently Nichelle Nichols on Heroes, right after George Takei (Sulu) left the stage.  If you haven’t ever seen any of Takei’s stand up, I would like to note it’s good stuff, and that he has a wonderful sense of humor.

On another note, John Rhys has always been one of my favorite actors too.  He’s been in more things than you could shake a stick at, and you probably wouldn’t have even realized about half of them.  Most people nowadays would most readily recognize him as Gimli from the Lord of the Rings movies.

One other recent smile came during rewatching DuckTales.  I’m sure anyone of my age group that watched the show will remember the Golden Goose episodes.  I had just noticed on a recent rewatching of the series that when the mystical water is used to turn things back from gold, it uses the lightsaber activation sound :-).

Star Trek Through the Ages
Series Inconsistencies Analysis

I’ve been a Star Trek fan for as long as I can remember... which goes back to at least the age of 3. One of my first memories is watching the live airing of a Star Trek The Next Generation (STTNG) episode in which a parasitic alien race, very much like the Goa’uld that come much later in Stargate, tries to take over Star Fleet.

I’ve religiously watched STTNG, Deep Space 9 (DS9), and Voyager through the years, and quit at that point with much animosity towards Enterprise and Star Trek: Nemesis.

Anyways, let’s get to the point of this post. I have recently started watching the 3 seasons of The Original Star Trek (TOS). My only impressions before this had been made up by seeing a random episode or two over the years, which screamed campiness to me. I can honestly now say though, after getting through a number of episodes, it’s still, after so many years, quite fun. And that’s saying something, as old stuff usually seems crappy unless you have nostalgia towards it.

The 2 things I respected most about STTNG and future co-spinoffs, for as long as they held it... was that they TRIED to maintain a proper continuity starting with STTNG. At the beginning, it was rare that they ever contradicted themselves, but as the legacy grew, the inconsistencies started becoming ridiculous. This has been my opinion for many years, and now that I am watching through TOS, I can finally see how bad it can really get (well, to be honest, I think Enterprise went way beyond anything in this regard, but I didn’t watch enough of it to talk about it in an informed manner. I will only talk about thing’s I’ve seen enough of to bash, and yes, I have gone through a lot of crap purposely for this reason...). It is actually quite good, however, that STTNG disregarded quite a bit of the original canon because it would have ruined the universe in a manner.

For example, in one of the first episodes of TOS, they traveled back in time by no special means other than pushing their engines faster than warp X. There was another early episode where they had fully functioning androids and the (slightly abused) machinery that created them (contradicting Data of STTNG). These are just two of many other “large” cans of worms they opened up by being too “open ended”. However, the producers made the right decision, IMO, and scrapped all the canon from TOS that they wanted and only made reference to it when they felt like it, starting the true canon of the Star Trek universe with Jean-Luk and his crew all the way through the end of DS9 and Voyager.

I am still very anxious to continue watching TOS but time has been very constrained lately and my multitasking abilities have diminished significantly over the years... a large part I’m sure from medications I take (such as for ADD or whatnot...).

On another random point about the Star Trek universe, while watching TOS, I found myself really enjoying the short costumes on all the female characters. I myself am quite the feminist, so this would usually go against my views, but for some reason, it fits real well and makes it more of a... shall I put it... fun/less serious atmosphere ^_^;. They tried to carry this legacy over to STTNG with Diana Troy in her “relatively skimpy” outfit(s), but they really did not do a good job of it. It just did not fit, at all. There was a specific episode were Picard is forced to leave the ship (to find some Romulan device that he has specific knowledge of due to a senior thesis or something), and another captain takes over. It raised my eyebrow when he harshly ordered Diana to put on a proper uniform, but he was completely right in doing so. I believe this might have been the producers/directors attempt at commenting on the issue.

The final thing I noticed that I wanted to comment on was just a little giggle for me. In the very first episode of TOS (with Shatner, not counting “The Cage” pilot with Pike) in which a crewman gains god-like powers, he creates/materializes a grave for Kirk, which reads “James R. Kirk” - which as we all know, Kirk was given the middle name of “Tiberius”, as he is often cited as “James T. Kirk” .... Just one of those minor continuity things that you wonder why they hadn’t caught it at the time... or maybe they decided to ignore it and still go with “Tiberius” as it is a pretty cool middle name.

Anyways, Star Trek (OST, STTNG, DS9, Voyager) & Star Gate (Seasons 1-7) are all very good stuff that do not date too badly on social issues. For anyone open to checking out new stuff who hasn’t tried watching either of these (is that possible that anyone hasn’t ever been exposed to at least one Star Trek series?), they are well worth it.