Thursday, October 29

Star Trek Continues (2013 ff.)

Executive Produced by Vic Mignogna

I’ve been on a bit of a Star Trek kick, first inspired by my picking up the excellent Autobiography of James T. Kirk [LINK] but subsequently energized by my chance discovery a couple of weeks ago, of this tour de force.

I knew in kind of a vague way that there were various amateur fan-productions of Star Trek series available on-line. I avoided them. But then, a blog I follow occasionally through Facebook (American Catholic [LINK]) took notice of the latest episode. On a lark, I followed the link and watched the first few minutes of that newest offering – and was blown away! I immediately shared the episode, appending the exuberant comment, “This is GREAT ... Episode 05! ... I think I just found a new way to waste time -- I've not seen 01-04! #BetterthanAbrams.”

Sunday, October 25

The Autobiography of James T. Kirk (2015)

“Edited by” David A. Goodman

I will lead with the most important point: This is indeed the first-person narrative of the life  of the original series James T. Kirk, not the alternate-timeline doppelganger that is featured in the newer movies.

That having been established, this is an enjoyable book. It’s not great, but quite interesting. It’s not really a fleshed-out faux “autobiography.” It might better be termed “memoirs.” It’s constructed as a series of short vignettes, most of them several pages long but organized into about a dozen chapters (unnamed) spanning the 23rd-c. lifetime of James Tiberius Kirk, most famous as the captain of the Starship Enterprise. There is a great deal of overlap with episodes of the original Star Trek television series and the subsequent motion pictures, but a great deal of “new” material on Kirk’s youth and linking the events chronicled in the TV/movie canon. What I found most interesting was the insight that is given into the mind of the heroic captain, who comes off in his own mind as a decidedly unheroic figure, filled with self-doubt and remorse for many of the actions that were celebrated in those stories, many of them necessary in the situations in which he found himself, but which he so often wishes could have been different and recognizes were driven – especially in the later episodes and even afterward – by an incredible hubris that had sometimes devastating effects on those around him. On the other hand, we do get a sense of the sterling character that inspired the great love and loyalty evidenced by his crew and friends. All-in-all, we get a very different view of Kirk that makes him a more realistic character than I think I’ve ever experienced him to be.

Wednesday, October 7

Sunday, 07 October 1571: The Battle of Lepanto

The Battle of Lepanto, ca. 1572
by Paolo Veronese
The battle that stayed the Islamic advance in the Mediterranean toward a direct attack on Rome; The battle that saved Christendom. It is commemorated every year on this day under the title, "Our Lady of the Rosary," because the holy warriors of the fleet commanded by Don John of Austria, and half of Christendom led by Pope St. Pius V in the Vatican, prayed the Holy Rosary for deliverance. A series of miraculous events turned the winds and the tides and granted the Crusaders a crushing victory which the Holy Father witnessed from afar in a vision. St. Pius proclaimed the first Sunday in October to be the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, which was later changed to Our Lady of the Rosary on the calendar date of the battle itself.

340 years later, on 07 October 1911, G. K. Chesterton celebrated the victory by penning this great poem, published later that same week:

Friday, October 2

The Martian (2015)

Directed by Ridley Scott, based on the book by Andy Weir

Disco is dead for a reason. I fear it is about to make a comeback of sorts, however, given its prominence in this wonderful movie about a near-future “Robinson Crusoe on Mars.” Everyone, I’m sure, knows the basic plot, based on the previews alone: One of the six first astronauts to walk the surface of the red planet is believed killed in a freak accident during an emergency evacuation – but he survives, stranded, with only a fraction of the supplies he will need to survive the four years before another manned mission could possibly reach him, given the realities of orbital mechanics. He has no choice but to start “sciencing the shit” out of his hopeless situation. What results is, as was the book, an amazing, uplifting tale of human endurance, innovation, cooperation, and ultimate triumph that I’m not going to make any more detailed comments on than that, except for these few: