Star Trek Novel Icons

22 Sep 2017 06:17 pm
sheliak: A mermaid stares in fascination down a chasm in the ocean floor, through which an underwater city is visible. (trot)
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20 Star Trek: Rihannsu icons and 55 other Star Trek TOS book cover icons over here.
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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the eighteenth episode of the third season of Enterprise, I genuinely did not expect this to be so horribly messed up. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

WELL. W E L L. THANKS FOR THAT MID-SEASON CLIFFHANGER WITH NO “To Be Continued…” ENDING. WHAT HAVE Y’ALL DONE TO ME.

The Plan

I’m realizing how much of this season is about this crew entering a previously unexplored area of space and then MAKING EIGHT TRILLION MISTAKES IN A ROW. Perhaps more so than any other season, this really feels like the show is depicting a ragtag crew learning how to do deep space exploration by doing it the hard way. Without the more intensive Starfleet and Federation rules that come later on, they’re constantly breaking new ground. But they’re doing so with their flaws on display! A lot of the time, Archer’s improvisation or boldness keeps them ahead of their foes, but I’d argue that what he does in “Azati Prime” is just downright foolish. I’d also say that’s a major factor in his decision to change his mind about Daniels. If he hadn’t screwed up so badly, would he have tried diplomacy?

Lemme back up a bit. Even from the start, I felt like these characters were flying by the seat of their pants. That’s not a bad thing! This whole seasons has largely been thrilling because of the great big unknown that surrounds them at every single turn. It makes for compelling storytelling. So when Travis and Tucker headed down to the planet where the weapon was being built, the tension was unbearable. It was hard NOT to assume the worst. They’d get captured. They’d never make it to the weapon to take scans. And even if they did, what if they couldn’t discern any weakness in it?

And by gods, that underwater sequence was INCREDIBLE. It beautifully portrayed the sense of awe and terror that those two men felt while staring upon the thing that had been built to guarantee their people’s demise. So when the scans of the Death Star – er, sorry, the Xindi weapon revealed a way to destroy it, and then we found out it would be a one-way trip, I was again floored by the awful plan that Archer had come up with. And make no mistake: it’s REALLY bad. Did no one think to scan again as they got closer to it to even see if it was there? Even if the defense perimeter prevented Enterprise from scanning on the planet, surely they all realized that if they destroyed the weapon, the Xindi would just build another one in a more secret location, right?

But Archer’s terrible plan had a separate motivation behind it: it was an act of penance for all the awful things he’d asked of others and himself since entering the Expanse. Y’all, THIS WAS THE THING I WAS WAITING FOR. I desperately needed to know if the show would address Archer’s shifting ethics, and LO AND BEHOLD, he was going to sacrifice himself to save humanity… for a few more months.

Daniels

It’s a spectacularly bad plan, so that’s why I love that Daniels LITERALLY PULLS ARCHER INTO THE FUTURE TO TELL HIM THIS. I had hoped that the sheer drama of this act was enough to get Archer to abandon this bad idea. Yet let us not forget the power of the certainty of misguided men! Despite being shown the eventual war between the builders of the Spheres and LITERALLY ALL OTHER SPECIES, Archer refuses to budge. Can we just all sit here and acknowledge how FOOLISH that is. Archer got handed the answer to the mystery of the spheres and he STILL DID NOT CARE. Gods grant me the overconfidence of white men, I swear.

Hearts & Minds

And so “Azati Prime” escalates. And escalates. AND ESCALATES. The second Archer leaves his ship on his one-man kamikaze mission, each horrible moment is followed immediately by another one. T’Pol had an emotional breakdown over the imminent death of her friend, which I need ALL PARTIES INVOLVED to apologize to me for since it’s one of the most gut-wrenching things in this whole show. Then T’Pol finds it difficult to be the captain because she’s distraught, and then Archer finds out that the weapon was MOVED and he’s too late, and then he’s captured, and then NOTHING GOES RIGHT AT ALL.

A funny little thing happens at this point, though, and I’m convinced that this is a huge turning point for season three. Archer changes his mind. Faced with his failure to destroy the weapon, he tries a tactic that honestly should have been attempted a long time ago: he talks. It is literally what T’Pol suggested earlier, isn’t it? (Though I admit I may be remembering this wrong.) Now, this is not an easy task, especially since Degra does not remember the events of “Stratagem.” I am also curious how Archer is going to justify killing those Xindi on that lunar base, but we’ll have to see. It’s a tall order. How do you convince these people not to kill you after everything that’s happened? Even more daunting is the challenge of convincing the Xindi that the sphere builders lied to them about humans. Why would any of the Xindi ever believe Archer?

It was astounding to watch Archer chip away at the certainty of the Xindi, first at Degra, then at the primates. He introduces doubt into their minds, which is a hell of a technique. He doesn’t need them to believe him 100%. He just needed them to question what they’d been told, even a little bit. It sure makes the reptilian look incredibly suspicious, doesn’t it?

I’m guessing that this doubt is what Archer is going to capitalize on, though it’s not like he has many options. Enterprise is… look, no words feel right in describing the devastation that was rained down upon that ship. WHAT IS WITH THIS SHOW AND VENTING CREW MEMBERS INTO SPACE. IT HURTS. NO MORE. But the ship is a sitting duck, and Archer is too far away to do much of anything. It’s a hell of a cliffhanger, and I still can’t believe we’re only three-quarters of the way through the season. If the writers are committing to this now, what the hell do they have planned for later?

The video for “Azati Prime” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

The day has come, friends. Paste Magazine has the HUGE reveal: Title! Cover! Release date! AN EXCERPT! This is a huge deal, and I’m so happy that I can finally talk about this. I’m going to be a published author! HOW IS THIS REAL.

Aside from finally being able to announce my debut, this serves as a chance for me to talk about the upcoming schedule for Mark Watches. If you check the Master Schedule, you’ll see I have updated everything through January. There’s no change until November, when my Star Trek journey will be replaced with my continued watch of Person of Interest. One thing I’ve been aching to tell y’all is that my deal with Tor Teen is for TWO books, and I have a deadline for Book #2 (currently still untitled) right before Anger Is a Gift  comes out. On top of that, I have other projects I cannot talk about yet that are in the pipeline, and it’s become very, very hard for me to maintain fifteen reviews/videos per week and write books at the same time.

So! We’ll finish off Person of Interest as a main feature, then switch over to Alias. I apologize for delaying Alias for a couple months, but this will allow me to work on my fiction and still pull off my annual Holiday Cards in November/December. I also plan on folding Jane the Virgin into regular features, too, most likely after I get a few of the shorter shows done!

Otherwise: Mark Watches isn’t going anywhere, and as long as y’all still support me, I am going to scream and cry on camera for all of you. Thank you for supporting me as long as you have, and I hope you’ll stick around. As a reminder, I post announcements in my newsletter and all exclusives/secrets are posted to my Patreon. (They found out about the announcement in the vaguest of terms earlier this week.)

Thank you!

Mark

Thread

22 Sep 2017 08:01 pm
elisi: (OMG!!!)
[personal profile] elisi
Originally posted by [profile] xkcd_rss at Thread
[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the eighth episode of the second season of Person of Interest, this is one of the strangest things this show has ever done, and I LOVED IT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest.

Trigger Warning: For brief mention of a miscarriage and discussion of trauma.

So remember earlier this week when I complimented this show’s willingness to have a sense of humor? Good lord, THIS WAS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED FROM PERSON OF INTEREST. And yet? It works. Weirdly, this works so well. It’s a chance for the writers to play with the nature of perpetrator and victim (AGAIN!) while allowing these characters (except Reese) to reflect on the possibility of romance.

It’s just so absurd. Not initially, of course, and I thought I was in for a tense ride as Daniel Drake sought to kill his wife Sabrina in order to guarantee a publishing buyout went through. That was a fucked up story, but in hindsight, there was no need for the Machine to spit out two numbers if only one of them was going to die. It’s possible, but now it feels like foreshadowing for the eventual reveal: that both Drakes were trying to assassinate the other one. So how do you choose who to protect if both of them are awful people? Should they even be protected, or should Reese and Finch just let this follow its natural course?

I’m glad they considered the collateral damage here, because honestly, that was my only concern. Both of these people seemed so consistently terrible, so it’s not like I felt a whole lot of sympathy for their predicament. It’s through this, though, that Person of Interest takes the story in a surreal direction. There’s a satirical element to this marriage, especially since it pokes so much fun at two rich, white, heterosexual people who should be happy, but have allowed miscommunication and frustration to build to an intolerable level. There’s still a serious edge to this, and I respect that amidst the humor, the writers give the Drakes a genuine reason for their ridiculous marital spat: Sabrina had a miscarriage and then believed that Daniel blamed her for it. So even if there’s a lot to laugh about here, trauma is at the root of their problems. They never truly dealt with it, and, in Sabrina’s words, she dove into work instead of processing it. WHEW, IT’S ME, Y’ALL. That’s literally what I did after my father died!!! I took like one whole day off and thought that was enough??? Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

Another spoiler alert: dealing with residual trauma by taking out a hit on your partner is a really bad idea. Perhaps epically bad. But my god, IT WAS SO FUN WATCHING THIS. Finch got to be the marriage counselor! Which was funny until we saw why he was so good at getting Sabrina and Daniel to talk, and THIS IS UNFAIR. I was glad that Finch didn’t use the Machine to get any more information on Grace and instead got to know her by being with her. But what we see here is early in their relationship, and there’s a tragedy hanging over it all: at some point, Harold “dies” and leaves Grace behind. After Nathan warns him about keeping too many secrets, and after Grace tells Harold that she will stick by him no matter what secrets he has, what the hell convinces him to abandon her???

I’M SCARED.

I also admit to being worried about Carter and Beecher, as well as Fusco and Rhonda. That’s mostly because NOTHING NICE HAPPENS TO PEOPLE. Oh, nice things happen in this episode, but y’all, one of the major threats of this show is that as people learn about the truth of the world, their loved ones are at risk. That means Rhonda and Beecher are now possible collateral damage, which HURTS ME TO SAY. I mean, I’m just trying to prepare myself, okay? It’s all I can do at this point.

The video for “‘Til Death” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the seventeenth episode of the third season of Enterprise, this was a bizarre one, and I’M UNCOMFORTABLE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Let this count as yet another example of one of those episodes where I spent most of the run time composing a review in my head that was meant to address something very specific, only to have it all ruined in the end. Y’all, I was truly lost during “Hatchery,” and the issues I had pointed out in “Stratagem” seemed even more glaringly bad in comparison. Archer has repeatedly broken the rules in this season, and yet, his refusal to abandon the Xindi insectoid hatchery was held up as the pinnacle of ethics. I couldn’t believe it! How could he possibly think that this was appropriate after all that he’d done?

That doesn’t mean that this episode vindicates what happens in “Stratagem.” I still believe that there’s a major oversight in the construction of that script. However, I now don’t have to write a giant rant about how the writers had no idea what they were doing with Archer here. OH, I WAS SO READY TO, Y’ALL. And it’s not because I disagreed with Archer’s plan! If you take out the part where he got sprayed in the face, and you write him as far less paranoid, there’s actually a point to be made here. Yes, you still have the contrast between his actions and his philosophy, but that’s easier to address. Lots of people hold beliefs that they don’t always support through their behavior. Humans are, unsurprisingly, quite complicated. Yet there was a logic to Archer’s initial theory, wasn’t there? If the Xindi believed that humanity was heartless and savage, wouldn’t it help disprove that if they did something that was undeniably kind? Would it help dispel what the Xindi believed of them?

It’s an idealistic theory, of course, and it relied on a whole lot of things going perfectly right, which made it seem even more impossible to the crew. It’s why Archer’s treatment of Reed in particular was so galling. How was he supposed to open up communications with the Xindi who were actively firing on them? Even if he had, how was he supposed to convey that Archer and the other humans were actually trying to help the hatchery, not harm it? They probably would have assumed the worst, right???

That’s a pivotal scene in this episode, because prior to that moment, it was still possible that Archer, while harsh, was actually on the right path. Sure, he seemed obsessive, but was he truly that far gone? OH GOD, I HAD NO IDEA JUST HOW FAR HE WAS GOING TO GO.

Seriously, though, that’s part of the allure of “Hatchery.” The writers introduce this concept, and then they commit to it. What would happen if Archer’s brain chemistry was quietly changed to make him feel a biological imperative to be the caretaker for these unborn insectoids? WELL, THIS IS WHAT WOULD HAPPEN! It’s such a slow burn, since Archer has been shown to be compassionate and kind, so it’s not like his initial decision is entirely out of the question. Where it goes, however, is wildly out of character for Archer, and each new scene with escalates things further. He relieves T’Pol of duty after she refuses an order in public, but it’s not even the tip of the iceberg. Plus, I understood why she was doing it! Archer seemed to be forgetting the entire mission that had been the basis for going to the Delphic Expanse, and wasting that much antimatter wasn’t going to help them leave the Expanse after they destroyed the Xindi weapon. (If they could even get there in the first place!)

Then Reed was relieved of duty, and then Archer turned into… good lord. That whole scene in the hatchery was too much. HE LET THEM CRAWL ON HIM, I WOULD LIKE TO NEVER SEE THAT AGAIN, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I would have started a mutiny based on that moment alone. Can we update the Starfleet rules to include that mutiny is allowed if one’s captain morphs into the caretake for a bunch of baby insectoids? THANKS.

So, I’m glad that I got an explanation for Archer’s behavior. It doesn’t assuage my concerns over “Stratagem,” but I got to write a much different review for this episode than I had been planning. Also: NOPE TO THOSE EGGS.

The video for “Hatchery” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the seventh episode of the second season of Person of Interest, HELP ME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest

Y’all, that was a breathless experience, one of the most horrifically intense episodes of this whole show, and I am in AWE.

Amy and Madison

So, there’s a specific thing you might hear brought up when folks like myself are talking about diversity and representation: we want normalcy. Now, that doesn’t mean that I want people of backgrounds that are not of the default to be written exactly as the default stock of characters are. I know I’ve written about that in regards to folks under the LGBT or queer banners. I don’t want our culture or our history or our lives sanitized so that we just seem like everyone else. The things that make us different from het folks should be celebrated, too! The same goes for my identity as a Latinx person. I don’t want the things that make that identity a part of who I am to be ignored. Instead, it’s about leveling the playing field in a different. It’s about giving stories that have very little to do with these identities to people who don’t normally get them. I want fairy tales and sci-fi jaunts and adventures and thrillers and horror flicks full of people who look like the rest of the world, and I don’t need them to come off like after-school specials either.

Amy and Madison are presented to us matter-of-factly. They are married. The first scene they’re in, they’re affectionate the entire time. There are no jokes about them being a couple, and they’re treated as some sort of special “case” because they’re the first lesbian couple on the show. Instead, they get treated as complex people thrown into a nightmare and – most important of all – worth saving. The writers don’t invoke the Bury Your Gays trope by killing one of them off, and yet they still get a story where the threat of death hangs over everything. It’s terrifying, upsetting, and in the end, Madison makes a devastating choice to maintain her ethical commitment to medicine, even though Amy could have died because of it. It’s a rich, detailed, and gut-wrenching story, and they get a happy ending.

Is it the pinnacle of representation? No, but it was fulfilling. I got to see an interracial lesbian relationship on primetime television from one of the major networks, and the main guest character was a non-white lesbian. It meant a lot.

EVERYTHING HURTS

Oh, this whole thing was one giant exercise in suspense, and there was SO MUCH HERE meant to ruin me specifically. I have ranted and screamed about thrillers for many years here on Mark Watches and LOOK HOW MUCH IS IN JUST ONE EPISODE. There’s a ticking clock! There’s the emotional pain of knowing that if you don’t make the right decision, someone you love dies! THERE’S ALASTAIR WESLEY, WHO IS SO EVIL THAT I WILL HATE HIM ON SIGHT!!! You know what else makes this episode unbearable? A formidable foe, and we get that in Wesley. This probably wouldn’t have been such a ridiculously difficult case if not for him. That moment where he called the sniper’s phone to demonstrate to John that he’d have to take out ALL of the operatives hidden in the park to save Amy was HORRIFYING.

So you’ve got Reese up against a timeline and hidden assassins and a very motivated leader of this operation, and it’s built for suspense. That’s not even addressing the nightmare in the hospital itself! With the brilliant return of Leon Tao, the show is able to stick Finch on the scene, where he must face his revulsion of hospitals while Leon does the job he’d normally do. Look, I’m a huge fan of Leon as a character, so I hope we see him again. He also brings an interesting dynamic to the episode, since he’s not normally the kind of person that Finch would trust to leave alone in his office. (At this point, I think he only trusts Reese, so there’s that.) But it’s Michael Emerson’s performance, alongside Sharon Leal’s, that truly makes this episode such a rewarding experience. THEY’RE BOTH SO GOOD, Y’ALL.

She Has a Plan

This was 100% too much before Carter started investigating the dead body with her card and an address on it, so yeah. Suffice to say, I was not prepared in the most literal and metaphorical of senses, and I NEED THIS SHOW TO CALM DOWN. LET ME LIVE. Carter’s inclusion into Snow’s plot is another brilliant move because it forces her to ask questions. She discovers that Snow is being controlled by a woman through use of a bomb attached to his torso. Controlled to do what, though? Kara Stanton has something awful planned, but none of the pieces make any sense to me. Is this a revenge plot of some sort for being left behind? That seems like an easy guess, but this is Person of Interest. We all know it’s gonna be more fucked up than that.

It puts Agent Carter on a precipice, though. If she continues to seek out more information, she’ll learn who Snow is. What Reese used to do with Stanton. And the Machine isn’t that far away either. This series stresses that knowledge isn’t just power; it’s a risk. The more you know, the more expendable you become. So does Carter willingly choose to know more???

The video for “Critical” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

dragonyphoenix: (raven)
[personal profile] dragonyphoenix
On April 19, 1943, Albert Hofmann, the Swiss father of psychedelic medicine, dropped lysergic acid diethylamide and went on a bike ride, becoming the first human to ever trip on acid.

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. -H.G. Wells

ACA enrollment period

21 Sep 2017 12:01 am
dragonyphoenix: Blackadder looking at scraps of paper, saying "It could use a beta" (blackadder)
[personal profile] dragonyphoenix

Enrollment for 2018 Affordable Care Act (ACA / Obamacare) starts November 1 and ends December 15. Trump reduced the ADVERTISING funds by 90% to announce when people can enroll. Please copy and paste to circulate. #SpreadTheWord

March 2014

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Functions


 
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Series

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A.T.S. (2009 – present)


 

 
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The River’s Daughter


 

 
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