Friday, June 28, 2013

Progress report

I have three creative projects currently in process. The first is this blog; I aim to communicate with the outside world from this mysterious location between my ears, with a goal of sending a message daily at least weekdays.

Then there's the continuing adventures of Myke Phoenix, stalwart protector of Astor City. Conceived nearly a quarter-century ago, Myke finally was revealed to the world in 2008. I began churning out new adventures early this year for Kindle, two new stories within three weeks. The next batch will probably come out in a flurry, too.

Finally, there's Uncle Warren's Attic, the podcast. Been 80 of 'em. I don't want to produce an 81st without plans for more beyond that. Working on that. No, really.

On the side there's the day job, and the animals, and the yard work. I can't use them as an excuse for any lack of visible progress because last summer, when we moved twice and built a house, I managed to write a novel (also available for Kindle, by the by).

A friend of mine left a simple motivating comment not too long ago during a dry spell: "Writers write." I call myself a writer. So I'm writing. By the way, if you call yourself a writer, you should be writing, too. Today and every day. It's easy to call yourself a writer. But what have you written?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Out of step

My friend Wally Conger had a blog with the subtitle “Unfinished essays and spontaneous eruptions on radical politics and popular culture.” I guess that’s what this is; the thoughts are still fermenting.

I’m struck by the growing perception of capitalism as a bad thing, and by “capitalism” I mean a system based on free market, open competition, profit motive and private ownership.

It means people doing their best, hard work in order to accomplish some thing, being it food on the table or a roof overhead or a useful tool or information for the community or the next generation.

How do you (and “we”) move forward without being rewarded for good, hard work? What is the incentive to produce when the more you produce, the more you are taxed and regulated? Human nature never stops being human nature: When the cost of a product or service is too high, the product or service will not be exchanged.

Profit is the discretionary funds left when costs are subtracted from revenue. Profit is the trip to the movies, the dessert, the ball game, the electronic toy. Reduce profits and you reduce the money spent on items beyond food, clothing and shelter.

And yet “profit” is a word said with a sneer and a spit, and “the rich” are reviled as if becoming rich can happen without hard work and dedicated service to others. It’s a puzzlement.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Alcohol is not an excuse

Guy walks into a gas station and calls the sheriff. “I’d like to report a murder, and I did it.” Open-and-shut case, right?

Saturday afternoon in Door County Circuit Court, we found out it was not as simple as that. At least one and perhaps two members of a jury brought in from outside to ensure a fair trial bought the defendant’s argument that he did not intend to kill that woman and her unborn child, even though he spent two agonizing minutes with his hands on her throat literally choking two lives away, and the juror refused to budge from that position.

The defense grasped at the straw that Brian M. Cooper was so, so drunk that he was unable to form the intention to kill, and intent is a key component of the legal definition of first-degree intentional homicide. After all, his blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.39 percent hours after he killed Alisha and Ava Bromfield, nearly five times the current legal limit.

Sitting back in the office I was stunned. I had only been in the courtroom for one afternoon of the weeklong trial. I’d ignored the cautions of the three staff members who saw Cooper testify on Thursday.

He was very convincing, truly remorseful, they said. Over the years working in other communities that have intentional homicide trials more often than once every 11 years, I reassured them that defendants are often sincere and remorseful on the stand, but what kind of a defense is “I was so wasted I can’t remember what I was thinking” for slaughtering someone you purport to have loved?

My colleagues weren’t surprised when the jury foreman said they couldn’t reach a decision. I was surprised. I was angry, then frustrated. Finally I realized he only had to convince one person out of 12, and it appears that’s what he did.

And it wasn’t a complete miscarriage of justice. Even the 12th juror, after all, agreed to find him guilty of sexual assault for his unspeakable actions after he killed them. He can spend up to 10 years in prison for that. And he wasn’t found not guilty — by making no decision, the jury gave the state another chance to put him on trial.

Just out of curiosity I put this question on our online poll: What would you have decided if you were on the jury? Ironically, a few minutes later 12 people had voted; 11 said “guilty on all three counts” and one said “not guilty.” Perhaps it wasn’t a fluke.

And that points to the difficulty of trying to hold people accountable for crimes they commit under the influence of alcohol. There’s always going to be that element in the jury’s minds of “Wow, he was probably as drunk as I was that one night in my life — there, but for the grace of God, go I.”

Friends and supporters of Alisha Bromfield’s family took to Twitter during the jury deliberations, tweeting a simple message over and over: “Alcohol is not an excuse.” Of course, people locked in a jury room don’t have access to Twitter, but let’s hope the message was heard everywhere else.

Being wasted may be an explanation —we might understand how someone who is horribly intoxicated could do horrible things — but it’s not an excuse for taking lives, and people who do horrible things under the influence still must be held accountable, whether the weapon of choice is a vehicle or bare hands.

Even Brian M. Cooper knows that. He didn’t call 911 and say, “I’d like to report a horrible mistake” or even “I’d like to report a terrible accident.” He said, more than once, “I’d like to report a murder.”

Cross-posted to Door County Advocate

Friday, June 21, 2013

A message from beyond the end of the world

The world ended six months ago today. Remember?

The Mayan calendar came to an end, and so did we. How’s oblivion working out for you?

When I hear predictions about the end of the world, I recall that every prediction about the end of the world I have ever heard — and I’ve heard my share of them — did not come true.

Two quotes I’ve often quoted come in handy when you’re tempted to listen to the siren call of OMG We’re In Deep Doodoo Now …

“Most things I never worry about never happen anyway.” — Tom Petty

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” — H.L. Mencken

I cannot stress enough the last four words of Mencken’s comment. He didn’t say most of the hobgoblins are imaginary; he didn’t say almost all of them are imaginary; he said all. All. Let me say that one more time: “Hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

You’ve heard that joke: How can you tell if a politician is lying? His/her lips are moving.

What’s today’s imaginary hobgoblin? What are you reading about in the news about the latest threat to your personal safety or your homeland security? What did your favorite politician tell you to fear?

Do you really think in six months all that horror will have come true and our lives will be in chaos unless we trust these people to lead us to safety? If so, I have some surplus Mayan calendars I’d like to sell you at a bargain price.

Live your life. Move forward boldly with your dreams. Be all you can be. Nothing can stop you but your fear. What you fear won't happen — or even if it does, it won't stop you unless you let it.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Best Dog There Is™

She climbs up into bed first thing in the morning and presses herself into me in an insistent cocoon, moaning as I stroke her neck and licking my hand if I start to doze.

As we prepare to do her morning duty, she seeks out one of her rubber flying disks, because the ritual is not complete until she has chased the thing at least two or three times.

As Red and I absorb our morning reading, she sniffs through her toy collection. She may bring me a rubber ball to throw or roll in an unexpected direction so she can scramble after it. She may bring me a tattered towel for a tug of war. She may walk around the room with a squeak toy in her mouth, squeaking rhythmically as if singing or joining the conversation.

And once she tires of the game, she will flop on her back and invite me to rub her tummy, scratch her chest, massage her back or all of the above.

Weary from a parade of tasks that still await when I leave these four walls, I often perform my side of the game automatically and without really engaging my full attention. Every once in a while, though, Willow makes me realize she is teaching me to take a little time to play and enjoy this miraculous journey that is life.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Finding the joys of the summer solstice

May may be the Festival of Blossoms, but June is when Door County really starts to blossom.

The spring and beginning of summer brings the artists out in full bloom. Door is a natural gem — woods and fields surrounded by glorious water, with maritime imagery everywhere: lighthouses, cliffs and crashing waves, ferries, sailboats, ships, all of it inspiring an artist colony full of folks creating images in paint and clay and pixels and words and music and theater — and food!

We took part in a “beer pairing” at Mojo Rosa’s in Egg Harbor the other night and experienced pork chops and tostados and nachos prepared in delightful ways we’d never experienced before — the artistry of the chef enhancing the artistry of the brewmaster.

And that was just a tiny fraction of the artistry available and on display all the time and everywhere during a Door County summer. From the American Folklore Theatre to Peninsula Players, from Birch Creek to Midsummer’s Music, from Door Shakespeare to the Peninsula Music Festival, you can’t swing a cherry branch without hitting sublime artistry somewhere on this gorgeous rock.

There is high art on the stages. There is high art in the galleries and the wineries. There is high art in the whoooosh of a fish boilover. High art is being prepared in kitchens in every community in this county, and in the shipyards and the farm fields. I believe it’s inspired by the high art the water has carved from the rock.

Beauty needs to be shared, of course. I remember when after years of telling my 80-something dad he had to hear the big band faculty at Birch Creek Music Performance Center, he finally made it out from New Jersey and settled into a chair in the big barn.

This is a connoisseur who was raised on Benny Goodman and Harry James and Lionel Hampton, who raised swing to a high art form, so I confess to being jittery whether the Birch Creek folks could live up to his standards.

When, a few seconds into the opening number, the lead trumpeter stood up and tore into a solo, my dad broke into a broad, delighted smile and said, “Oh, my!” My jitters vanished, and I realized I should have known better. This is summer in Door County, where delights are everyday occurrences.

Thank God for the summer solstice — only the longest days can hold all of the possibilities here. I have only scratched the surface; this space is not sufficient to list all of the many choices for so many tastes.

Explore. Don’t limit yourself to these suggestions; find the ones that suit your palette. But don’t let a Door summer pass without exploring the wonders around you.

Cross posted to Door County Advocate

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Commencement speech

“With great power comes great responsibility.” – Uncle Ben Parker, sometime in 1962

With great ability comes the responsibility to use it, hone it, and make the world better, at least for yourself and those around you.

Toward the end of my book The Imaginary Revolution, after tyranny is overturned and folks sit around talking about what the new government should look like, my hero smiles and asks a more basic question.

Why do we even need a government?

I left the question to hang in the air, but the conversation may have gone like this.

“Because there are those who can’t fend for themselves.”

For this we need regulations that often have the net effect of hampering the ability to help the needy?

“Because the unscrupulous would prey on the weak.”

And what of the unscrupulous predators who use the government as their weapon?

“Because we need an educated populace.”

Yes, we do, and in fact my own philosophy depends on people being educated enough to know better. So, who will do the educating if not government agents? Here’s a thought: Teach kids how to learn and they will educate themselves. Live the free life and they will learn to be free.

Kids, you will succeed as long as you add something of value to the world. Make something with your hands or your mind. Restore something. Preserve something. Leave the world better or more enriched than you found it — every day.

Monday, June 17, 2013

W.B. at the Movies: Oz The Great and Powerful

If you’re going to do a movie called Oz The Great and Powerful, you’re inviting comparisons to “the” movie about Oz, which has stood up for 74 years. This movie compares well in many ways, but in the end I’d say it takes itself a tad too seriously.

It’s new on DVD, and having missed it on the big screen, I find James Franco is a better wizard than I’d been led to believe in the various reviews I’ve encountered. He doesn’t have the flamboyance of Frank Morgan or the over-the-top showmanship of W.C. Fields, for whom the original movie character was written. What he does present is a scoundrel who somewhat regrets he’s a scoundrel and wishes to do better, and at that Franco does a nice job.

Oz The Great and Powerful borrows some of the familiar tropes from “the” film, including starting out in black and white and converting to color when the story flows from Kansas into Oz – with the added treat of filling out the widescreen frame. That was nicely done, and done better than the film manages other links to the original.

As in “the” film, characters from Kansas find themselves in Oz but in different form. Here’s the girl he couldn’t help, here’s the good friend he doesn’t appreciate, and here’s the good woman in his life. But at the end of “the” movie, we’re presented a logical explanation of the similarities. Here those similarities are apparently little more than a remarkable coincidence.

Don’t get me wrong, as a fan of “the” movie – it’s on my short list of all-time favorites – I really enjoyed Oz The Great and Powerful, much more than Disney’s previous attempt to reboot the franchise, Return to Oz back in 1985. But I’m also one of the precious few who kind of liked Return to Oz (which actually did a better job of integrating the “real” L. Frank Baum story into the film, or at least the immortal W.W. Denslow and John R. Neill imagery, than even “the” Oz movie).

It’s all effective fantasy and a smashing good story. It just doesn’t have the whimsy of “the” film. They just don’t seem to be having as much fun as the group seemed to be having back in 1939. Here, when Oz meets the munchkins, there’s much ado and the little people begin to dance and cheer and sing. The reluctant wizard makes them stop and chill. It’s a cute scene, but it exemplifies the difference: This Land of Oz needs a little more warmth, a little more whimsy, a little more joy.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Insist on yourself

I find quite a few nuggets of wisdom in every reading of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s immortal essay Self-Reliance.

Here, he summarizes an entreaty that the reader think and act for herself, find her own way, not be content to follow in the steps of even the greatest men and women who have come before – because only you can or will walk the path ahead of you.
“Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous, half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him.”

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A story idea for you

I have other stories I want to write; you can have this one.

On his way to the killing, the murderer finished his soda pop and threw the plastic bottle out the window of his vehicle.

It landed near the mailbox of our innocent protagonist, who found it in the morning and tossed it into his recycling bin.

Eventually DNA found at the crime scene will be matched to DNA found in our innocent protagonist’s recycling bin.

And oh! The adventures he will have as a result.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A fence between neighbors

Good fences make good neighbors, someone said a long time ago. It seems a cynical statement; a fence, after all, keeps you at arm’s length. Are you a better neighbor because I’ve prevented you from getting too close?

Well, yes, actually that’s true. The particular neighbors Red and I had in mind, as we toiled this weekend on the new garden fence, were the breathtaking deer who wandered through the yard last week, and the little family of rabbits that hopped through the field toward the trees.

We have dreams, you see, of eating carrots and radishes and beets and lettuce and peas and beans that we planted in this soil with our own hands. And without this fence, our neighbors most likely will eat them first.

So yes, good fences make good neighbors. The fence tells them they can eat anything they like that they eat on this land on their side, just leave this little plot alone. With any luck we’ll live a long and harmonious life side by side; they will eat what grows wild out there, and we will eat our homegrown vegetables.

I know there are good analogies to be had and dots to connect about fences and neighbors and limits. My mind is beginning to form connections about a fence between my harmless phone calls and neighbors whose job it is to keep terrorists at bay and whose invasions of privacy turn them into terrorists themselves, for example.

But at this moment we’d just as soon sit and rest our weary arms and knees, admiring the new fence. And look, it’s just about time to thin the carrot plants.

Cross-posted to Door County Advocate

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A barricade of one's own making

There is no writer’s block. There is no mysterious force that prevents words flowing from the mind of an author to her fingertips and onto a page. There is only willful decision, in this case a choice not to make the choices that will allow the words to flow. A conscious hesitation, a deliberate procrastination.

Why? As I’ve stated in the past, procrastination is fear. Fear of what? A fear of making the wrong decision? In fiction, a fear of sending beloved characters in a direction you will regret. In nonfiction, a fear perhaps of irrelevance – who cares what you have to say and what if you’re wrong anyway?

And of course there is the opposite fear – a fear of sending the characters in the right direction. To tell the right story, beloved Romeo and Juliet both had to die. Rhett Butler had to leave Scarlett and not give a damn. Rick had to make Ilsa get on the plane. In nonfiction, the fear of changing the world for the good. Ask Jesus and Gandhi and King how that works out.

These of course are the extremes, but the fears work themselves in similar fashion in the writer’s mind – and so the stories don’t get told and the essays don’t get written.

And the myth of writer’s block is born. The myth is that this is out of the writer’s control. What has happened in fact is that the writer has chosen to second-guess himself, to pause: He has chosen that not writing is more comfortable than making the moment by moment decisions of putting one word after another and then choosing the next one and the one beyond that.

Last summer and fall, after years of procrastination, I threw caution to the wind and told the story of The Imaginary Revolution. I wrote every day (at least until the willful hesitancy began to interfere), and then I set a deadline to compile it all into a story, and I shipped the story to the world on Bill of Right Day (Dec. 15) 2012, and I let it go.

Then, so I wouldn’t stop writing, I returned to my old friend Myke Phoenix, and in two and a half days in January revived his career in a story called The Song of the Serial Kisser, and three weeks later I completed another superhero story about Myke and the Firespiders.

And then the “writer’s block” set in. And I wondered: What am I afraid of?

None of these stories are bound for the writer’s hall of fame – although the themes of The Imaginary Revolution complete a sort of trilogy that, with Refuse to be Afraid and A Scream of Consciousness, describe the philosophy by which I’d live what I estimate to be my best life – and although I have come to care very much about the characters who inhabit Astor City, the setting of the Myke Phoenix chronicles.

So, why did I stop writing as the ideas for another, and then a second, and then a third additional Myke story began to bounce around in my brain?

Why did I stop writing as the story between The Imaginary Bomb and The Imaginary Revolution coalesced after 20 years and a possible sequel began to nibble at the edges of my consciousness?

Why did I stop writing as new ideas and new characters with new stories whispered in my ear?

What am I afraid of?

What an interesting question.

And, by the way, what is stopping you from following your own dreams and your purpose? That may be a more interesting question, especially in your mind.

Let’s explore it together.

Or best yet, I’ll start writing again, and you get started on your dream. We’ll meet up the road a ways. Deal?

Monday, June 10, 2013

W.B. at the Movies: The 25 seconds that I enjoyed in 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'

I'd rather not dwell on one of the longest 170-minute stretches of my life and the likelihood that I will not hurry to watch the second and third segments of "The Hobbit" motion picture experience. I guess I just wasn't prepared to see what I remember as a charming and enchanting novel converted into an action film packed with computer-generated images of slashing, slicing and dicing, one after another after another.

But in one of the quiet scenes I found one 25-second statement that was worth hearing and repeating. When Gandalf the wizard is asked why hobbit Bilbo Baggins is along for the ride, he replies, at first, "I don't know," but adds:
Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I've found. I've found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk, that keeps the darkness at bay – simple acts of kindness and love.

Friday, June 7, 2013

To attend the breeze

The conversation outside my window begins as dawn's first light begins to creep overhead. Clearly the birds are communicating. Just as a puppy can get a general sense of its owner's message from the actions that accompany the words, we may think we understand the birds' language, but not the words – if words they are.

Is there a place left on Earth where the birds can speak without the drone or whine of a manmade motor in the distance? From time to time we experience blessed silence for a few seconds, until the next vehicle whines along, either somewhere far away or up close and personal. And in those few seconds of silence are the value of living in the country; in the city is constant artificial sound/noise.

Odd that, with my hearing not what it used to be, I would write about the joy of silence, since living in silence is a gnawing fear for any lover of words and music. Not being able to hear or comprehend the voices is a frightening prospect, but being in a place where silence reigns is joyful. No – not silence, but the absence of mechanical sounds, a place where the breeze is not drowned out, a place where the breeze can be heard and attended.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

7 paragraphs about negotiating the winds of change

Live intentionally. How do you fulfill your mission? On purpose. So stay on purpose.

Is it time for a change? Too late; while you were asking the question, everything changed.

Ride the wind, they say. But what is the wind? An ever-shifting maelstrom of interactions, some intentional, mostly random, some proactive, mostly reactive. The intentional and proactive can influence the direction of the maelstrom somewhat – ride the wind, and keep a hand on the tiller.

Take time to learn. But not too much time; what you've learned has already changed.

The wind howls. Ride the wind. But what is the wind?

Where does the story begin? How do you know to end it, and when?

Only you can determine those answers. Consider them carefully, but find an answer. In the time you've taken to think about it, everything has changed.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Golden rule should guide voucher debate

I don’t write much about politics anymore, not because I don’t have opinions — as my friends and co-workers know — but because it’s become such a bloodsport. To choose a party means embracing the idea that you are choosing a noble fight for the right against an unspeakable wrong, i.e., the other party. How absurd. They’re both wrong, of course.

The late, great one-term Wisconsin governor and part-time Egg Harbor resident Lee Dreyfus summarized my own view of politics best: “Government should defend our shores and deliver the mail and otherwise stay the hell out of my life.” He would not fit in very well among the social engineers and budget busters of either today’s Republican or Democratic parties.

Dreyfus also joked about what he called the Golden Rule: “He who has the gold makes the rules,” meaning if you accept money from the government, expect it to come with strings attached. That’s the rule that informs my view of the so-called private school choice or school voucher system.

Make no mistake about it: I believe private schools are a good idea. As state Sen. Frank Lasee likes to say, “the education of our children is too important to leave in the hands of a government monopoly.” Much good is accomplished in public schools, especially local public schools, but politicians and the bureaucracy seem hell-bent on draining what’s left of local life and local wisdom out of schools and leaving the most important decision-making in a central authority’s hands. Competition makes the competitors better; the more schools to choose from, the better the schools.

I also believe low-income families should have access to private schools. It’s hard to afford tuition for your kids when every December you must also pay a hefty tuition for the “free” education the government funds. Somehow, those families need some relief if they feel a private school is a better choice for their kids.

However, remember Dreyfus’ Golden Rule. The more state dollars are used to fund private schools, the greater will be the call to make those schools more accountable for how they spend the dollars they receive. Accountable to whom? Why, to the state Department of Public Instruction, of course. Before long a private education and a public education will be indistinguishable.

On the issue of whether the government needs to raise taxes on the rich, I have a little philosophy I like to call the Buffett Rule: If Warren Buffett thinks his taxes are too low, he should consider making a volunteer donation above and beyond what his accountants think is his fair share of taxes, rather than beat the drum for raising his fellow billionaires’ confiscatory taxes even higher.

I have a similar opinion on the issue of how to help low-income families afford private schools. If you think low-income families ought to receive a $7,000 annual voucher for their kids to go to the school of their choice, create a fund and solicit donations, rather than having the government create that fund. For the sake of the schools’ independence, don’t ask taxpayers to pony up.

I agree with the people who believe low-income families deserve the same chances for their children’s success that the middle and upper classes have. On the issue of inviting government gold and government rules into the equation, I simply caution to be careful what you wish for.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Words. And music.

“Where your treasure is, there lies your heart.”

What have I poured my treasure into?

Words. And music.

Books and books and books of words about fantastic adventures and noble lives and strange mysteries and new life and new civilizations.

And music of all shapes (sounds?) and sizes. Recordings from yesterday, recordings from 40-50 years ago, recordings from the beginning of recording.

Words. And music.

The words are messages in bottles, stories and thoughts preserved in a time machine from the time before everything changed. And so are the recordings – music from another time. How exciting it might be to have words and music from the future, but the future has not happened yet, any more than the past still exists in another dimension. We have the power to go there at the tips of our brains – because the power of the imagination is unlimited. We imagine the music of the future and convert it into the music of today.

There is something to be said about not turning on the computer for the first hour or so of the day, or even – dare I? – until I get to work in the morning, leaving the home computing until I get home at night. When I turn it on in the morning, all of these voices scream silently for attention – waiting to tell me what they know or sing/play me a tune – and so I sit mesmerized by natterings and unimportant words and music.

If, instead of slipping on the computer in the morning, I sat and wrote, or pulled one of the voices around me off the shelf, could I enrich my morning beyond the reach of the glowing screen? I so suspect.

In fact, I wrote the above words yesterday morning, with pen and paper, sitting in a chair and listening to the chattering of red-wing blackbirds instead of staring at the glow.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

W.B. at the Movies: Star Trek Into Darkness

The first Star Trek movie in the new series established that the early death of James T. Kirk’s father (who in Shatner-Trek lived to see his son become a Starfleet officer) sent the proverbial time-space continuum off in a different direction – essentially restarting the story with Kirk in need of a father figure and Spock’s eternal struggle between Vulcan logic and human emotion complicated by his rage over a madman destroying his home planet and killing his mother along the way.

The second Star Trek movie further explores the possibilities of this alternate universe, replaying familiar scenes with roles reversed (or not) from the first go-round. For someone fortunate enough to have been sitting in front of a television set the night of Sept. 8, 1966, when “Man Trap” launched this 47-year mission to seek out strange new life, there are plenty of fun little nods to what went before as the new crew makes its own way.

Infuriatingly (although I am NOT a Trek geek) I found myself struggling to accept the very first sequence of events, which finds the starship Enterprise parked in a place where starships were just not designed to park. It says right here on Page 171 of my treasured first printing of The Making of Star Trek that I bought for 95 cents in 1968: “The Enterprise is not designed to enter the atmosphere of a planet and never lands on a planet surface.” When you learn how much care went into the design of these mythical space vessels, it’s kind of dumb to violate the principles behind that design. (I am NOT a Trek geek!) But once that opening sequence was over (with a hint we may revisit this planet someday), we were in for a satisfying ride.

Having encountered the “spoiler” behind the actual identity of the mysterious villain named John Harrison (I put “spoiler” in quotes because rumors this villain would appear in the second movie began flying shortly after the end of the closing credits of Pine-Trek I), I was able to watch for and enjoy the various similarities and divergences from the original Trek canon.

The torch has been passed to a new generation: The actors have done a wonderful job of inhabiting iconic characters while making their own identifiable contribution to the legend. The filmmakers have accomplished something the old crew was not able to do – created two consecutive very good Star Trek movies.

I did not walk out of Star Trek (2009) or Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) with the same OMG-that-was-great feeling that I had when I walked out of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, but I do find myself hoping it won’t be another four years before we revisit this story. And now that we’ve really established the new cast and laid down how the new Trek is different from the old, I hope next time they really do go where no one has gone before.

Cross-posted at Uncle Warren's Attic