Brain Fog

Three days ago I looked at the front page of this blog. The last article written is still the February 2016 primary piece Who Gives a Shit About Iowa? Have I not written anything since then? WTF?

I’ve had several interesting conversations since writing that piece. I’ve had two or three good ideas (one of which will be applied to the next chapter of EPHN if I ever get around to completing the one I’m working on) None of the stuff I come up with gets beyond notes phase. None of it gets beyond notes phase because essentially, I have no brain. The problem I’m having is one of the symptoms of Meniere’s, one that half the medical community says isn’t real. Those of us who have Meniere’s know differently. We call it brain fog.  I’m struggling with it right now, so please bear with me.

I’m trying to write today even though I have trouble forming basic thoughts because this is yet another part of the disease that plagues my every moment, and I don’t really bother to talk about it to anyone outside the wife, the daughter and the son.

Brain fog.  It’s like the insides of my head are full of cotton wool. Like the frontal lobes of my brain (had to look that up, sadly) have electrical current running through them, and conscious thought is elusive. Just beyond reach.  Most frequently brought on by vertigo attacks, it can show up without notice any time the pressure in the ears change, the tinnitus changes, the headaches start or stop. You name it. I think I had a vertigo attack while sleeping last night because I went to bed early and dizzy. I woke up the drooling genius searching for keys on his keyboard that I am now.

When I woke up seven hours ago I thought about writing this piece.  Clever ideas about what to say, ideas about how to express myself floated in one side of my head and out the other.  They are lost to me now.  I keep hearing the voice of the antagonist from Spock’s Brain “I put the teacher on my head” a frequent joke around the house when one of us is forgetful.

Star Trek TOS (Preview S3-E01) – Spock’s Brain

But it really isn’t a joke when I feel this way.  Ah, to have access to a device that would put the knowledge back in my head. To restore the mental acuity that I usually take for granted but is so lacking now (took a full 30 seconds to come up with the word acuity) I’m torn between stomping my feet in mock anger “brain, brain what is brain?” or just going with the flow and embracing the silence.

Earth Girls Are Easy, Because I’m Blonde

The above is another inside joke around this house, as frequently referenced as Spock’s Brain.  At least Earth Girls are Easy was meant to be funny. If only I was blond and female I could make vapid work for me.  Guys without brains or muscle aren’t of much use.  The Wife is blond and generally smarter than me when I’m like this. Some would tell you she is always smarter.  Can’t argue with that right now.

So I’m going back to my marathon of Better Call Saul. Been meaning to watch that anyway and it is complex enough that I actually have to watch it or I’ll miss something, unlike most television. Finished the Expanse yesterday and there won’t be new Walking Dead till Sunday.  I’ll find something else to watch when I finish that. Hopefully this fog will pass soon and I’ll have something more substantive to say.

(This post subject to edit or deletion when the brain returns. Come back soon, brain)

Dr. Who Christmas Special. My First Amazon Review. A Twofer.

Image courtesy BBC
& Dalekdom on Deviantart
available on Amazon.com

Posted here on Amazon.

Let me set something straight. I love Doctor Who. I have watched every episode available from the First Hartnell to the latest Matt Smith. My cable system and PVR let me down and didn’t record this years Christmas Special, (wasn’t marked “new” apparently) so kudos to Amazon for having it available to purchase and stream (can I get a round figure on what it would cost to own all of the Doctor this way? Less than 5 figures, please) Doctor Who remains Doctor Who whether we’re talking about Hartnell’s Captain Kangaroo delivery, Pertwee’s 007 flamboyancy, Tom Baker’s charming teeth and curls, or Matt Smith doing a fair impression of Troughton’s second doctor. It’s all British, it’s all time traveling entertainment on a grand scale.

Watch this one, it’s good.

However, I write this post because, once again, I’m sent a message by Amazon asking me “how many stars I would give this show”. The same hook they use each time I purchase ANYTHING. From a song to a book to a movie that is 20 years old; to this film (which could probably benefit from a positive review) and each time I fall for the hook and wander over here, it’s demanded of me that I wax verbose on the subject of whatever it is. If I’ve purchased a single song, I cannot leave a review without writing an essay about it! That is simply ridiculous.

Please. Please, I’m begging here. Remove the requirement that essays be written for each and every product that you purchase, just so you can give an ‘attay boy’ to something that deserves it, without having to struggle with wit and punctuation, and heaven forbid CAPS LOCK. Let us just give a star rating, please? At least quit pretending in your e-mails that a star rating is all you want.

Another Abramanation on the Horizon

For some reason I ‘liked’ Star Trek on Facebook (an error I intend to correct shortly) so I was jarred out of a fanciful daydream when this image appeared on my wall.  Yes, that is a nacelle, coming up out of the water.

For those who may not remember, we’ve covered my rejection of Abrams’ work on Star Trek in the past (the label Abramanation is assigned here)  as well as my long term unhappiness with where the franchise has been going dating back to before the series Enterprise was rolled out. This is not a sudden separation from Trek on my part, but a well thought out and gradual withdrawal from the fan scene.  I simply don’t have enough in common with current fans to have an interest in the ins and outs of fandom any longer. 

As the comments followed on the image I was appalled to note this entry;

“If you think about it a submarine is very much like a starship. It makes sense that to hide a space vessel waters like a large ocean or lake. It is completely sealed and pressurized. Why not hide it under water?”

This is why Star Trek and science fiction in general have become so dumbed down. There is absolutely no engineering resemblance between a space vessel designed to hold air in, and a submarine designed to keep water out. Not similar, at all. But to the layman it’s a “woo-woo” moment. “Look, it’s underwater!” (eyeroll) Oh, really.

Before fans of the franchise pop up with objections, I’d like to offer the following list of observations;

  1. I don’t accept the premise that “any Trek is better than no Trek” voiced by some of  the commenters to that thread, and by fans I’ve talked to in the past. I would specifically prefer no Trek to continuing Abramanations, which is ultimately why I no longer refer to myself as a Trekkie or a Trek fan. The franchise has gone somewhere I do not wish to follow.
  2. I don’t “hate” the abramanations. On some levels they are quite enjoyable as most eye candy is; the problem is that Star Trek has never been simply entertainment to me. I don’t become a 20 year fan of things that are simply entertaining. I’m not a fan of Gilligan’s Island, although I laughed while watching nearly every episode. Consequently when Star Trek crossed over into the “just entertainment” category, I stopped being a fan of it. Like it or not, I don’t care.
  3. There are specific problems with every single SF venture that Lindloff and Abrams are involved in; generally it amounts to not paying enough attention to established factual science (like the engineering issue I pointed out previously) not developing believable characters because of lazy story plotting (“Isn’t it cute?”) and not enough research into established canon. When combined, you have a final product that is nearly unwatchable to the technically educated, ridiculous to the trained storyteller, and offensive to the hardcore fan.

This is why there are so many vocal objections to the latest iterations of various franchises that the average popcorn chewer will dismiss as a hater. It’s not hatred to offer valid criticism for what is a weak effort from people who are being well paid (over paid, from my perspective) and provided with lavish budgets to produce what could be very high quality artistic works, if only they took the time (see James Cameron) to do the due diligence that an undertaking of this magnitude requires. 

 In Other Words, promoters of the current Abramanation, don’t ask for opinions if you don’t want opinions.


I finally did see this film edited for television recently (sometime in 2016) I wrote about it here.

To Know the Truth

Woke up from a nightmare a few minutes ago. In my nightmare, something was discovered in the desert that was said to answer the question “is there a god?” to look at this thing causes instant death, but in the moment of death it is said that you will know the answer to this question.

Well respected leaders of various factions go to see this thing, only to die (pick your favorite names out of a hat in descending order) with the last words “it’s true” on their lips. Both groups, skeptics and believers alike, claiming that this thing confirms their belief. That there isn’t a god. That there is a god.

Do you go look? People are dying by the thousands on the belief that this thing answers the question. Does it matter?


This is what happens when you fall asleep watching Dylan Ratigan and Michael Shermer (The Believing Brain) discussing the latest doomsday predictions on MSNBC. To me, this is the essence of Heisenberg, and an example of Schrodinger. No, of course the world’s not going to end. But because you can’t know what will happen tomorrow until it becomes today, people will line up based on their tendency to believe either X or Y position on the subject of god.

I just don’t understand why it matters enough to spend money on the subject. If the world ends tomorrow, will god care that you gave money to the right organizations? Really? Of all of this, I find that assertion hardest to believe. This is bad news for the religious organizations hoping to part me from my money, when it comes to the subject of the (latest) predictions of doomsday.


When I woke up and watched the rest of the show, only to see Willie Geist pitching his book Loaded, I was reassured by the sarcasm that all was indeed right with the world.

(yawn) I think I can sleep again now…


Got a comment from a poster over at dancarlin.com suggesting that this sounded like a Twilight Zone episode; how would I complete it? Thinking I might engage in a creative writing experiment, and see how many endings could be spawned, I wrote this paragraph;

You choose to make the trek, to take the hajj. After weeks of travel, you find yourself in the remote location that your guide tells you the object can be found in (he smirks when you pay him his final fee. Why is that?) traveling the final few feet to the location seems to take as long as the journey up to this point has taken. In front of you is a mound of stinking corpses which conceals the mystical object; a tribute to the common man’s need. Apparently you must climb the pile. A final indignity to be suffered before gaining the knowledge you seek.

Apparently there aren’t any creative writing types on the Dan Carlin boards; or maybe they just don’t hang out on a thread titled Atheism is not a Belief System. In any case, I gave it a week or so, then completed the story in the fashion that came to me in the shower a few days after having the dream;

You climb the stinking pile of bodies. As you step on the face of what was once probably an attractive woman; someones cherished child, perhaps a loving wife and mother, before she became just anther corpse in a pile of tribute, you realize that you are mere inches from the top. Mere inches from the cherished knowledge, the answer to that most important of questions, is there a god?

For one last instant you pause. Even in the reeking atmosphere it feels so good to breath, to feel the pulse in your veins. But the knowledge. The knowledge will be worth the sacrifice. The task must be completed.

You struggle the last disgusting few inches, and your head crests the top of the pile. Suddenly you realize that the object is before you. Your first thought is “that’s it?” but the thought is erased by the agony of your heart convulsing in your chest. The pain is unbearable and you release your grisly handhold in the hair of the last person to gaze upon the object, but this causes you to loose your footing and you topple back down to the bottom of the pile.

The thought occurs to you that you are dying, and you still don’t have your answer. You rage at the injustice of it all, to come so far only to be robbed of the promise. The whispers all said that the answer would be given. Where was your answer. But your rage is impotent, the pain is flowing out of your body, and you vision begins to cloud.

Laying there gazing into the dimming distance, you see a figure approaching you. Could it be?

As the figure begins to form from the haze, you notice that it is crowned with horns, and is shaped as a satyr, but reddish in color. The demon chuckles softly to itself and speaks. “You were a fool to sacrifice the greatest gift in the universe, the gift of life, for such fleeting knowledge. Little good will it do you now” He reaches down for you.

Your last breath comes out as a whisper. “it’s true”

Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century

CATO event. Here’s the Podcast link.
But that’s not all! There’s an hour of video too!

If a person names as his three favorites of my books; Stranger, Harsh Mistress and Starship Troopers, then I know that he has groked what I meant. -RAH

If you’d rather just purchase the biography of Heinlein that this event is about, here is the link for that.

Star Trek by the Minute, the Last Minute

With minute 117, STBTM has come to a close. I think this quote from the comments pretty well covers it.

I believe the point that this film was shamefully sexist, religious, ignorant, inconsistent, and poorly written in ways I never would have imagined…
…all have been made sufficiently by the detailed qualitative assessments in each segment.

I haven’t done an exact count, but the number of minutes with women speaking or appearing in this film amounts to less than a quarter. Considering that the only ‘person of color’ in the film also happens to be the only woman with a significant speaking role is just a further indictment of the film.

I stand by my original assessment. RIP Star Trek. I won’t be wasting any more money participating in fannish activities that would force me to acknowledge this horribly flawed film.

Star Trek by the Minute – Read the Comments too!

Slowly reading through Star Trek by the Minute. I’m savoring, don’t rush me. I’m also taking the time to read the comments for the separate posts. Like this one, from 063.

Of course, as we all know, the amount of time it seems to take and the ability of the transporter to beam a person in crisis at all is governed by a formula that takes into account (a) the needs of the writers at that moment and (b) whether the person being beamed is a regular character or a guest, and (c) whether said person is wearing red.

Priceless insight. That’s what that is. The writer has his own blog, Star Trek Musings, full of insights like the above. Check out Tribble Trouble, see if that doesn’t skew you thinking on the subject.

Comments on Star Trek by the Minute

What follows is a record of my comments on and conversations with the author for Structured Dream and his posts for Star Trek by the Minute

Star Trek by the Minute 022: Leap Without Looking

R. Anthony Steele said…
I always saw that scene with Scott and his nephew as Scotty’s throwing the cost of avoidable battle in Kirk’s face. It’s possible he expected Bones to be on the bridge, since that is where he seems to spend most of his time on the show.

In any case, while WOK is one of my favorites, I don’t consider it to be exactly ‘canon’. None of the films really work in the context of the original show (except the first one) since they are all products of the writer/producer/director team makes them.

Having said that, I have to say that I no longer consider myself a Trekkie or a Star Trek fan, after this last film. It’s dead for me now. I can’t think of anything that could have been more of a betrayal of the Trek that I followed and loved than this latest film is.

I have enjoyed every minute of the review that I’ve read so far. Thanks for writing it, it has saved me the pain of doing it myself, as I pointed out on my blog.

RAnt(hony)-ings – Star Trek

March 14, 2010 12:19 AM


BurntSynapse said…

Thanks for the feedback and the links, Anthony. You’re the type of fan I’m trying to reach, and I enjoyed your Abramination posts. I would like to read your TrekBBS posts; Are they accessible?

March 14, 2010 7:35 AM


R. Anthony Steele said…

if you go into the interface and do a search for ‘ranthony’ you should get all my posts in a list.

There’s really not much there, if I remember correctly. I reposted the RIP blog post, and was looking for feedback (it’s still there, in the closed thread) and then was attacked, repeatedly, for daring to ask where my posts went, and for not liking the film.

It’s funny. I used to run a Trek fanclub. When I see my former club members, almost all of them *love* the film. When they find out I don’t, the questions begin, and it almost follows a script.

“Loved the action” Yep, it was great.
“Loved the actors” Yep, they were great. They clearly all had respect for the characters they were portraying, and they did good jobs with what they were given.
“So, what don’t you like?” EVERYTHING else. A story would have been nice. Some science would have been good too (red matter. It would be funny, if it wasn’t in a Trek film) REAL FEMALE CHARACTERS sort of tops my charts of complaints. Where are they in this film?

I have a theory, and I wish I had the money and permission to give this a try. Take STV, and remove every special effects scene. Rework it with state of the art effects, and the budget this film had. I think it would be every bit the seller this film was. And it would be a real Trek film, to boot.

That film was thrown to Shatner as a bone, and the studio never got behind it. But it has some of the best scenes with classic characters interacting. There are some really bad scenes (the birth sequence, as someone else noted, is horrible) but mostly it suffered from a lack of a real effects budget. Compare the comic moments between the two films. I don’t see the difference.

…and yet STV is routinely panned as the worst film. Why? Because of the laughable effects, IMO.

Anyway, thanks for reading my linked posts.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 5:33 PM

Star Trek by the Minute 025 Safety Belts

R. Anthony Steele said…

The bike sequence is the moment in the film when I could no longer suspend disbelief. The antique car at the beginning, far fetched as that sequence was, was an artifact of the past.

Kirk’s bike is a tool of the modern age, and it has wheels, which is completely outside of the trek universe (It’s also why Nemesis doesn’t make it as a trek film, btw) and it’s appearance pulled me right out of the film. So much so that I couldn’t even enjoy the grand entrance of the under construction Enterprise.

The ‘giving away things’ comment in the novelization is probably a wrong-headed attempt to incorporate the (poorly conceived) notion of money and property in the ST universe that previous screen writers have failed to communicate in their own right.

They would have had to have some grounding in philosophy, money and ethics in order to understand it themselves, much less communicate it to others.

As you pointed out, the film addresses none of this, doing even less (if that’s possible) to incorporate past conceptions of Trek into the story.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 5:36 PM
Star Trek by the Minute 027 Three Years?

R. Anthony Steele said…
Glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed this. That was the first thing in my mind. Maybe they invented some Red Dwarf type games to pass the time. Soap suds slalom down the cargo ramp, perhaps.

Still, they aren’t the last Romulans alive, and they traveled to this time period to change the timeline. Why not just go to Romulus and CHANGE IT. Just a thought.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 6:10 PM

Star Trek by the Minute 031 Cheating to Win?

R. Anthony Steele said…
It’s been my opinion, since the announcement of this film, that this scene was the reason for setting the film as a prequel.

It should have been the shining moment in the film. I kept thinking how much I hated that smug bastard in the Captain’s chair.

Funny, I never felt that way about Shatner’s performances.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 6:37 PM

Tron Legacy. Let’s hope it is.

I’ve been hearing rumors of this film for quite some time. There was an early teaser trailer out more than a year ago that left me wondering if I wanted to see the film or not. It looked promising. It still looks promising.


TRON: LEGACY – Official Trailer

Tron is one of my favorite films. I saw it on it’s first run in a theater back in 1981. The mere existence of computer generated graphics in the film had me nerding out before I had ever seen it. Two Babylon 5 stars worked together for the first time on that film. Can you name them? The story of the making of that film should be a film in itself. Just kidding, it is a film. Every single frame of Tron that takes place in the digital world had to be hand processed, matted, painted, etc. A back breaking labor of love that makes today’s digital effects seem like a cake walk.

Tron Legacy looks to be grittier and grimmer (go figure) and packed full of more explosions than they could even imagine doing back in 1982. I’m hoping they remembered to include a story. In any case, I’m sure I’ll be there opening night. The Wife loves movies with explosions.



This is yet another article I forgot I wrote and then rediscovered after going back through the blog.  I really enjoyed Tron Legacy.  I loved pretty much everything about it, there was far more story in the new film than was present in the first one.  The effects were amazing, and it was beautiful seeing the actors reprise their roles so faithfully.  This film was one of the true bright spots in Hollywood’s insistence in remaking all of the films I loved as a child. I can’t recommend it highly enough.