Thursday, February 25, 2010

5 Greatest Spaceships of All Time

They'll never exist. Not in reality. But I sure wish they did. I'd gladly fly in any one of these.

1. USS Enterprise

My first love. I talked about it in another post a couple years ago, so I won't rehash it here, but it's still the starship against which all others are measured. I want to live on the bridge.


2. Eagle 1

Space: 1999. So dated, so disregarded, so wonderful. Again, I wrote a post about this a while back but suffice it to say these craft inspired a lot of imaginative play. I wanted to build my own mock-up of the cockpit. And wear my custom-made shirt with a single red sleeve.

3. Millenium Falcon

I know what you're saying. "What a piece of junk!" Well, she may not look like much but she's got it where it counts, kid. And, sadly, I quoted that from memory. Yes, I am a nerd.

When I used to imagine what I'd do if I were granted three wishes, I developed a complicated list that would result in me having a full sized, working Millenium Falcon with unlimited fuel and the knowledge of how to fly it. I figured I could at least run as a high end competitor to Federal Express using a slogan like "When it absolutely, positively has to be there right now." I figured I could shuttle people and stuff between continents in a matter of minutes. Ah, the dream life of being a courier. Sadly, I did not make an allowance for also obtaining a Wookie co-pilot. Or a life.

4. Sky One 

UFO took place IN THE FUTURE. 1980 to be exact. *sigh* It involved a shadowy organization (see what I did there?) fighting malevolent marauders from outer space. While the moon-based interceptors were cool (and I still have my Dinky Toys version of it) I always thought Sky 1 was more cool. It launched from the ocean, attached to a submarine, then flew into the atmosphere to shoot down flying saucers. Yes!

5. Jupiter 2

Speaking of flying saucers, this Lost in Space ship WAS a flying saucer - but one built by the good guys! It also seemed to have the property of being bigger on the inside than it was on the outside. How else could they have jammed the chariot and pod in there, not to mention the voluminous lower lever of living quarters. But I loved the spinning lights on the undercarriage and as stupid as the show it self was, the ship was always cool. And the robot. Duh.

What did I leave out? What are some of YOUR picks?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Holy Donuts

 A Short Story

            Torus of love. Frosting of light. Sprinkles of peace.
            Wherever we gather, whenever we gather, we take the donut, we break it and we bless it, saying, “Take. Eat. Holy pastry purchased for you.”
            And so it is with the coffee. We fill our mugs and bless them, saying, “Brown liquid of understanding, poured for you. Take, blow gently, sip. Creamer is in the back for any who need it.”
            And the service begins.
            Most days, Jack shares first.
            “Good morning. My name is Jack and I love donuts.”
            “Hello, Jack,” we reply.
            “Sunday mornings were all about the donuts,” he begins. “My parents popped an 8-track into the stereo, usually the Kingston Trio, but sometimes Neil Diamond or America’s Greatest Hits. Then Dad would say, ‘Let’s go,’ and we’d hop into the car and drive the ten blocks to Dunkin’ Donuts. I’d always pick the chocolate crème filled, even though I kind of thought it was gross. My sister would get maple logs or some other godawful thing. I used the comics section of the Sunday paper to capture the drifts of powdered sugar.”
            Here he gets a little misty-eyed. “Damn, I miss those times.”
            And we raise our mugs to Jack and we dunk or not dunk, depending on our personal choice of donuts, and we take a large bite, savoring it, trying to become one with the donut, even if only for a moment.
            After we go around the circle – always a circle – I step up to the center and make my plea.
            “Friends, we thank you for coming. We thank you for partaking in the holy donut. And we thank you for your generous love offering of cash or gift cards.”
Folks drop what they can spare into the coffee canister I keep perched on a chair next to the door. They shuffle out, with promises to return next week.
Today, a young woman, she’d called herself Ruth during her testimony, held back after the rest of the group cleared out. She helped me stack chairs.
“I wanted to thank you,” she said. She couldn’t have been more than 25. Not conventionally pretty, she maintained an air of disarray that vanished, I’d noticed, while partaking in the donut.
“No, no,” I said. “Thank you for coming. We wouldn’t be here without folks like you.” Trite, I know, but in my experience, donut worshipers prefer their pastries large and their talk small.           
            She stacked the last chair and followed me to the front of the room.
            “I just know there’s something in them,” she said. “It’s, well, more powerful than us.”
            I nodded. “The sugar. Real addictive. You’ve got to be careful.”
            I flicked off the lights and motioned for her to lead us out of the room. She lingered in the doorway.
            “No,” she said. “It’s more than that. There’s an energy. A light. You guys seem to understand it. There’s power there, something…” She trailed off, bit her lip, then finally walked outside.
            I pulled the door closed.
            “We all sense it,” I said.
We put the group together last year when Jack and I found ourselves waxing poetic about the appeal of donuts. We started meeting at a local Dunkin’ Donuts until a rather dour woman named Charlotte started going on and on about Krispy Kreme. So to be more ecumenical, we started meeting at a local rec center.
            “Well,” I said, “thanks again for helping straighten up.”
            Ruth nodded, shoved her hands into her pockets and walked toward the parking lot.
            I locked the door, then turned to find myself face to face with her.
            “Oh,” I said.
            “I’m Jessica,” she said.
Before I could ask about the name change or even blurt out my own name she backed me against the door and kissed me.
And kissed me.
And kissed me.
I did not resist.
She took two steps back, shoved her hands back into her pockets and then smiled at me.
“The power of donuts,” she said.
I nodded. The power of donuts indeed.
“Same time next week?” Ruth who was actually called Jessica asked.
All I could do was nod and watch her vanish into the darkness.
Torus of love. Frosting of light.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


A Short Story

Kevin unwrapped his burrito, poking at the interior with his spork.

“I knew it,” he said, spearing a particularly large kernel of corn.

“It’s called a veggie burrito,” I said. ‘What did you expect?”

Kevin flicked the kernel onto the floor, where it landed near the leg of my chair.

“I expected vegetables,” he said, re-rolling the tortilla. “You know, mushrooms, kale, bean sprouts. Good healthy stuff.”

“What planet, exactly, are you from?” I asked. “You’re lucky there’s anything more than rice and beans in that thing. You’re lucky there’s a cheese-like substance in there to hold it all together. Count your blessings, my friend.”

He took a tentative bite of his burrito, then muttered, “Corn is the devil’s vegetable.”

“It’s a grain, not a vegetable,” I said.

“That’s exactly my point!” He wadded the burrito into a ball and flung it across the room. It smacked into the wall, leaving a brown smudge on the fading yellow paint.

“Nice,” I said.

Kevin shrugged. “Plenty more where that came from.” He reached over and grabbed one of my nachos.

We sat in silence for a few moments, polishing off my nacho platter.

“We ought to clean that up,” I said, staring at the remains of Kevin’s burrito.

“Go ahead,” he said. He stood and crossed toward the exit. “You coming?”

“You’re really not going to clean it up?”

“It had corn in it. Corn!”

“Excuse me.”

I turned to see two men in black. One held out his wallet, flashing a badge.

“We’re from the Corn Refiners Association. We’re going to have to ask you to come with us.”

Kevin glared at the men. “Are you kidding me?”

“No, sir, you’ve violated the by-laws of the Corn Refiners Association.”

“What are you talking about?”

The men in black grabbed Kevin’s arm and dragged him outside to a giant corn cob shaped paddy wagon.

“This is ridiculous,” Kevin shouted, struggling to free himself.

“I’m sorry, sir, the by-laws are very clear.”

They shoved him inside and slammed the giant cob behind him.

One of the men approached me.

“Sorry for the trouble,” he said, handing me a thimble-sized container of high fructose corn syrup.

I watched as they drove Kevin away. Later, I stopped at one of those roadside stands and bought a bushel of corn. Mmm. I love corn. All hail corn!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Burbs

I paid good money to see The Burbs in the theater. When it was over, I wanted my money back. And my time.

The Burbs came out the year after Big. It was THE NEXT TOM HANKS MOVIE (I think Punchline was the next movie production-wise, but it got held back. I saw it at a preview sometime after The Burbs. At least this is how I remember it 2 decades later.) Anyway, anticipation ran high for The Burbs due to the charm of both Hanks and the movie Big. Plus it had Carrie Fisher in it, always a boon to big Star Wars nerds like me.

(By the way, does anyone else recall in 1988-89ish when Starlog printed a story titled something like "Is Star Wars Fandom Dead?")

Anyway, expectations were high. But The Burbs fell flat. Labored and unfunny, I remember little about the film except that i was bitterly disappointed.

I knew nothing about the Varese Sarabande Soundtrack Club (original incarnation) until after it died, so the initial release of the soundtrack completely passed me by. I eventually heard the End Titles on the Varese 25th Anniversary set and it didn't really strike me as anything extraordinary. It has a pleasant enough tune, with a goofy Patton pastiche and then the "hilarious" whistle stuff at the very end. in short, it didn't make me want to fork over the big bucks for the out of print club cd.

Then the expanded edition came out.The Burbs: Deluxe Edition

I ordered it, caught in a wave of Jerry-mania. My expectations were again high. Here was music that fetched a high dollar on the resale market, so it had to be good, right?

Lesson learned. Sometimes a CD is scarce for a good reason.

This score left me flat, just like the movie, It's Jerry in his mickey-mousing comedy mode, which is hardly Jerry at his best. Goldsmith and comedy generally never went well together. And this movie, which strove to be both weird and funny, didn't even benefit from a fabled "Jerry scored the ideal movie in his head rather than the crappy movie in reality" boost. It's just as labored and unfunny as the film it accompanied. Really, the End Titles neatly sums up the entire score. Everything you'd ever really want from The Burbs is contained in that suite.

So if you're one of those just now getting into Jerry and kicking yourself for missing the now sold-out deluxe edition, don't worry. You're not missing anything. It's just another bottle cap in my collection and one I rarely dig out.