Thursday, December 17, 2009

Non-Roman Lettered Domain Name URLs: More Interesting Star Trek Websites?

If the planned use of domain names other than one’s currently using Roman or Latin letters gets an ok will the move lead to new, improved and more creative Star Trek websites?

By: Ringo Bones

Even though the various incarnations of Star Trek aired on TV and shown in movie theaters feature sentient beings from other worlds with an excellent grasp of the English language. Other Star Trek fans and I are probably wondering if this “scheme” was done in order to fit the particular episode or feature in the conveniently allotted time, isn’t it? But the existence of a vibrant Klingon language community only shows that the global Star Trek community could creatively exploit the recent ICANN approval of using domain names other than the Latin or Roman letter-based ones that are currently de rigueur.

Back in November 18, 2009, a UN backed conference held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on the use of non-Latin or non-Roman lettered domain names has finally been put forth for serious discussion. Which – to me, and everyone else, can be a good thing since millions of perfectly literate people worldwide still has trouble using the Internet since their native language doesn’t use Latin or roman letters. And most of the folks denied the “convenience” of using the Internet belong to emerging markets and / or economies like China and India. Not to mention Arabic speaking countries who must go through the inconvenience of learning English just to enjoy the privilege of enjoying the fruits of knowledge currently available on the world wide web. Being proficient of languages other than English – especially ones that don’t use Latin or Roman letters – does have its privileges, but how can it help in setting up more interesting, and I mean more “interesting” Star Trek websites?

In the present universe of the Star Trek fan, the only “extra-terrestrial” language currently developed – i.e. both spoken and used for translating Shakespearean works – is Klingon. And those that offer to teach Star Trek fans on how to read and write the Klingon alphabet or letters are few and far between. Imagine in the near future, Klingon language tutorial websites that caters to the typical hardcore Star Trek fan sporting domain name URLs that feature the Klingon alphabet or Klingon letters.

And after that, Vulcan language tutorial websites would emerge. Which will be more interesting since the scant Vulcan writings featured in most Star Trek episodes that I’ve seen so far looks suspiciously like Samaritan writing. Or what about the Romulan language where the sentient android Data with his positronic brain even has trouble mastering the complex verb roots of the language. Whatever happens, I think this would be a boon for us who can now set up our “specialist” websites sporting Cyrillic or Hiragana, Katakana, or Kanji domain name URLs.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Is There Still A Need For A Proper Star Trek Canon?

Given J.J. Abrams somewhat “overtly liberal” rendition of the recent Star Trek motion picture, is there still a need to follow the proper established series’ canon?

By: Ringo Bones

The latest Star Trek movie did manage to earn serious money, but given that it has alienated a significant number of long-time Trekkers by deviating from the long-established Gene Roddenberry canon, can the movie be still considered an indisputable success? After all Trekkies / Trekkers are probably fed up with that “it’s all that we have” excuse, aren’t we?

This hitherto unprecedented breach of established canon had many long-established Star Trek fans up in arms over the latest Star Trek movie despite of its indisputable box office success. J.J. Abrams attempt at a “metaphysical” retelling of Star Trek’s most influential characters – i.e. James T. Kirk has not been to everyone’s taste. James Joyce’s Ulysses it is not, as some fans put it. Some Star Trek fans even suggested using the planned sequel to use as a “metaphorical” platform for the Free Tibet movement, given that the US Government is unable to take a justified stance on the Tibet issue because it is now beholden to the People’s Republic of China’s bond holders. No thanks to the malfeasance of the Bush-Cheney consortium that ran a disastrous “War on Terror” campaign.

If we don’t follow the Star Trek canon established by Gene Roddenberry (even those independent Star Trek-based novels tried to follow it), Spock could easily break out into song by singing the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins or is it the Ballad of Frodo Baggins. Especially during that famous campfire scene in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier just because Leonard Nimoy is a big fan of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Or Captain Kirk singing William Shatner’s “famous” songs committed to vinyl during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Or what about Keith Carradine’s appearance on Star Trek: Enterprise. Does he have to sing a few songs from his I’m Easy album, which was released back in 1976? Maybe, I’ll subject this particular Keith Carradine musical opus to a music review once I get hold of a copy of I’m Easy – hopefully on the much-soulful vinyl format.

In my opinion, the established Gene Roddenberry canon is more than probably what makes those Star Trek TV episodes and movies that had been done before claim the upper echelons of the science fiction universe. J.J. Abrams’ use of inexplicable musical montages – i.e. the extremely youthful James T. Kirk’s joyride with The Beastie Boys’ Sabotage playing in the car stereo to poke fun at the latter Captain Kirk’s somewhat odd pronunciation of the word Sabotage – may work on an episode of Family Guy. But it will not work on a main feature of Star Trek.

Given that the J.J. Abrams Star Trek managed to earn serious money during the summer 2009 season and with a sequel in the works, Abrams could well be directing it. Because the taskmasters at Paramount are still very reluctant to risk hard earned money, especially during the recovery period of an economic recession. Maybe we’ll just hope that the storyline of the sequel will return Star Trek to the original Gene Roddenberry established canon, if not, we’ll there are those DVD remasters of the “glory day” episodes that we’ve grown to love over the years.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek: A Break with Tradition?

Despite alienating most of the long-time Star Trek fans, does the latest Star Trek motion picture still have something to offer to the venerable 40 year-old or so franchise?

By: Ringo Bones

As one of the major summer blockbusters of 2009, the J.J. Abrams directed Star Trek movie did more than just kept the promise of financial viability to its underwriters. Unfortunately, the movie single-handidly managed to devastate that much-beloved Gene Roddenberry established canon of one of the most beloved works of science fiction of the 20th Century. This time around, the cocky self-styled directorial genius of J.J. Abrams proved to be the undoing of the latest Star Trek motion picture. But could have Abrams done better?

On the sets and special effects side of things, the latest Star Trek movie could be viewed as a proverbial godsend. The Starship Enterprise’s engineering section – and her related sister starships – are no longer the low-ceiling cramped spaces that they used to be in the original series, The Next Generation, Voyager, and even the 21st Century prequel – i.e. Captain Archer era Enterprise - of the original series. Maybe the next step is that they should make the starship engineering section as spacious as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to make it believable that the said vessel could travel faster than the speed of light without moving at the speed of light. And the visual effects are up there with the best that Hollywood can currently produce.

On the established Star Trek canon side of things, I think J.J. Abrams was given a tad too much liberty in making this Star Trek franchise into the multi-worlds theorem image of Lost. Given that Star Trek: First Contact had changed the timeline a bit (blame it on the borg) and became part and parcell of the Captain Jonathan Archer era Enterprise – but the Gene Roddenberry canon busting of Abrams is just too radical for my taste.

From the various books and TV series of Star Trek that stayed in line with the canon, the Cardassians were “discovered” by the United Federation of Planets long after – maybe 5 to 10 years after – Captain James T. Kirk passed away. So how come a Starfleet Academy bar in San Francisco was serving Cardassian drinks while James T. Kirk was yet to earn his commission. Looks like J.J. Abrams failed to keep up with the Cardassians this time. And the original series hinted – somewhat blatantly – of Uhura’s excellent hearing, I found it odd that Abrams haven’t exploited this factoid by making Uhura an audiophile. Think the Charlie’s Angels movie sequel “musical” montages.

The movie also missed some very important vital factoids like planet Vulcan’s (planet Vulcan is Spock’s homeworld by the way) lower than average atmospheric pressure when compared to Earth and a somewhat slightly higher force of gravity when compared to Earth. The “insertion team” should have worn snazzy-looking Dave Clark like partial pressure suits given that they sky-jumped from an orbital height with ablative coatings to withstand the reentry. Think that suit worn by B’Ellana Torres when she took orbital sky-diving as an extreme sport in the Holodeck of Voyager. Sadly, snazzy silver colored Dave Clark partial pressure suits are about as rare today as an airworthy B-47 Stratojet. The “scientific”, “anthropological”, and “historical” errors on the latest Star Trek movie could fill a book with comparable thickness to the Ronald Reagan’s Commission on Pornography report of July 1986.

Compared to other competing science fiction franchises, the Terminator Salvation movie – despite of director Christian Bale’s web-worthy expletives and imprecations – did a much better job of sticking to its established series canon. Even playing the original Guns N’ Roses track - i.e. You Could be Mine circa 1991 - as bait in one of the scenes. Even the Terminator franchise’s first ever TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has so far stuck to the original established canon despite of time travel being the main literary device.

Is there ultimately a method to J.J. Abrams’ madness when it comes to his creative liberties done to the latest Star Trek movie? I don’t know it yet, but if he wants to retain the millions of alienated fans of Star Trek may I suggest using the many-worlds theorem of Lost as a main literary device in making the sequel of his “creatively” ill-advised Star Trek movie. I think it’s a nice way to undo the damage that Abrams had done to the much beloved Gene Roddenberry canon.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The New Star Trek Movie: Good Time to be a Trekkie?

In it’s 40 years of history of various incarnations of a highly consistent theme; will the latest Star Trek movie attract more fans to the franchise’s ever-growing fan-base?

By: Vanessa Uy

Though I haven’t yet seen the movie despite of my anticipation of it’s purportedly December 25, 2008 release. The latest Star Trek movie really has a lot going for it. Especially in the casting front where they judiciously opted for the “best and brightest” stars currently du jour of the under 25 demographic. Though not everyone agrees that the casting of the latest Star Trek movie has been beyond reproach.

The chatter on the blogosphere throughout 2008 pertaining to the movie suggests that the choice of both Zachary Quinto and John Cho is the one thing that the movie’s casting department had done right. Especially if the aim is to entice a new legion – i.e. ages 25 and younger - of young fans into the wonderful world of Star Trek. Zachary Quinto recently gained fame during the last few years for his role as the villain on the TV series “Heroes” with an infinitely complicated character that would make Friedrich Nietzsche an avid fan. The choice of Zachary Quinto to play the young Spock would not only do wonders for the new Star Trek movie given his under 25 demographic fanbase, But also for his acting career in Hollywood as well. So does the choice of John Cho to reprise the role of the Starship Enterprise’s helmsman Hikaru Sulu after gaining a somewhat fast-tracked worldwide fame – with the help of the Internet - for his roles in the two Harold and Kumar movies.

The casting of Simon Pegg as Montgomery Scott – a.k.a. Scotty – probably raised more eyebrows in the Star Trek’s fanbase since the casting of Jerry Ryan as “that sexy borg drone” named Seven of Nine. Given that Simon Pegg is an Englishman – as opposed to the Scottish Scotty – the howls of protests over the casting decision has since reverberated throughout the “Trekkie Universe” for much of 2008. Like the clamor for the role of Scotty should be reserved for an authentic Scottish actor. But given that the original actor who played the famed Starship Enterprise engineer, James Doohan, in the original Star Trek series in the 1960’s was not even Scottish – he was Canadian by the way – only serves to vindicate the decision of the movie’s casting department.

Given the progress achieved in recent years for the movie-crafter’s ability to create even wonderful whiz-bang special effects, will this make the new Star Trek movie the best one in the franchise’s 40-year history? Even though most women that I know of had always had “lingering” doubts over the movie’s director J.J. Abrams “creative aesthetics”. Citing an example on his TV series opus “Alias” and its ilk, where story-craft and literary plot tend to go to the nearest toilet once you give the “leading lady” superhuman-like powers. Or maybe it’s just Abram’s decision to avoid making “Alias” just another copycat version of “Cold Case” or “The FBI Detective Dana Scully Show”.

Given that America and the rest of the world had already been inspired and “energized” by US President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech, especially the part about “putting science back to it’s rightful place”. Anything that serves to renew the freshness of the 40-year old Star Trek franchise should be embraced with open arms by us unapologetic Trekkies. Especially when it attempts – rather unabashedly – to attract a new legion of younger fans. But for now, see you after the show.