Book Report: Star Trek 5 by James Blish (1972)

Book coverI already reported on this book in 2005, which probably makes it one of the earliest book reports on the blog. Well, certainly early in the almost 1,800 on the blog. I basically said then what I’ve said in a lot of the more recent reports on the Star Trek books: They’re short story recreations of episodes from the original Star Trek series by a British science fiction author who had not seen the show–so it lead to some early blunders like calling Vulcans Vulcanians and whatnot. The books came out in the years when the show was off the air (which was before VCRs, so book form was the only way to catch it if you weren’t sitting in front of the television when the syndicated repeats aired). I also mentioned, as I always do, that I originally read these books in the middle 1980s, so the books were fairly new and although the motion pictures had begun, Star Trek: The Next Generation had not.

So, as I mentioned previously, Blish is not working in airdate order or stardate order–he’s basically writing up the episodes that fans say they want to see next.

At any rate, this book contains:

  • “Whom Gods Destroy”, the one where a shapeshifter takes the form of Kirk to try to hijack the Enterprise. I don’t know if I remembered this one, but it’s a lot like “The Dagger of the Mind” (in Star Trek) and “Turnabout Intruder” below.
  • “The Tholian Web”, the one where the alien spaceships build a stellar net and the one where Kirk gets trapped between dimensions in his space suit. I remembered both from the episode, but not that they were the same episode.
  • “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, the one with the heavy-handed race relations metaphor where a guy with one side of his face black and the other white is rescued from a damaged, stolen star cruiser, and he has been pursued by a guy with the opposite coloration for a thousand years. One wonders how the writers would feel about disintegrated race relations fifty years later.
  • “This Side of Paradise”, the one where the spores make everyone, even Spock, happy. A similar story would later be included in the film Star Trek: Insurrection.
  • “Turnabout Intruder”, the one where a jealous ex-flame of Kirk uses an alien technology to swap bodies with him and try to hijack the Enterprise.
  • “Requiem for Methuseleh”, where the Enterprise meets a strange genius on an out-of-the-way planet, and Kirk tries to steal his girl.
  • “The Way to Eden”, where a bunch of hippies led by the carrier of a deadly plague try to hijack the Enterprise to go to a planet names Eden.

One thing that’s becoming clearer is how much the stories kind of mirror each other. We have four stories in this book where someone tries to hijack the Enterprise. We’ve got two stories with dopplegangers of one sort or another. Other books have had the time travel stories that kind of mirror one another.

Which is probably why when I watch or read about The Twilight Zone, I’m inspired to write speculative fiction, but I don’t get that same impulse from Star Trek.

Still, a bit of enjoyable nostalgia. And perhaps I should space these books out a little more, but they’re so quick to read, and I’m only at 19 books this year, so I need to pad the accounts.

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Book Report: The Story foreward by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee (2005)

Book coverThe Lutheran Church Missouri Synod church that I attend has been working its way through this book over the course of the last year. It is a further simplification of the Bible, trying to tell more narratively some of the denser or less readable sections, particularly of the Old Testament, and making the history of Israel into a set of narratives or stories focusing on different parts of history. Zondervan, the big Bible publishing company, put it out, and it includes excerpts from the New International Version of the Bible.

So every week for the last year, church service focused on a chapter of this book, so the readings might be related to the period covered in the chapter. A brief video preceded the sermon, but it was just clip art Flash with intense cellos or violas, a quote, and the trademarked logo displaying with a dramatic chord. Then the pastor would preach a sermon perhaps touching on the themes in the chapter, but often not. The single Bible study class that restarted after the 2020 empausening and the Sunday School classes used supporting materials to keep the whole church focused on the chapter for the week.

You know, the whole Protestant and especially Lutheran thing is Sola deo, sola scriptura, and so on, which makes me often wonder how that’s squared with the Lutheran catechisms and teaching from this book. But once you’re not reading the Bible in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, I guess it’s all a matter of the liberties and interpretations made in translation.

If you’re looking for a 500-page-long Cliff’s Notes version of the Bible, you could do worse, I suppose. It didn’t do much for me, but it did only tell the history of Israel once, which was nice. When I’m reading early in the Old Testament, I often get bogged down in the repeats.

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On Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina (2015)

Book coverI borrowed this course from the library because I’ve only a passing knowledge of Japanese history from thin books like Samurai Warriors, although I have read original sources like Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai and The Book of Five Rings (and I learned the definition of Keiretsu from The Ninja as some of that novel’s back story is set in post World War II Japan). So I was excited to find this course at the library.

It’s a cultural history, so we get a bit of linear talk about the different eras in Japan’s past, but most of the lectures center around a topic and delve into its relevance in history.

Lectures include:

  • Japan: A Globally Engaged Island Nation
  • Understanding Japan through Ancient Myths
  • The Emergence of the Ritsuryo State
  • Aspects of the Japanese Language
  • Early Japanese Buddhism
  • Heian Court Culture
  • The Rise of the Samurai
  • Pure Land Buddhism and Zen Buddhism
  • Samurai Culture in the Ashikaga Period
  • Japan at Home and Abroad, 1300 – 1600
  • Japan’s Isolation in the Tokugawa Period
  • Japanese Theater: Noh and Kabuki
  • The Importance of Japanese Gardens
  • The Meaning of Bushido in a Time of Peace
  • Japanese Poetry: The Road to Haiku
  • Hokusai and the Art of Wood-Block Prints
  • The Meiji Restoration
  • Three Visions of Prewar Japan
  • War without a Master Plan: Japan, 1931 – 1945
  • Japanese Family Life
  • Japanese Foodways
  • Japan’s Economic Miracle
  • Kurosawa and Ozu: Two Giants of Film
  • The Making of Contemporary Japan

The tone is respectful, but not slavishly praising of the current regime (as one suspects modern Chinese histories are). The professor only lets slip some politics in a couple of places (calling a Japanese attempted assassin right-wing, saying that the way to improve declined fertility rates is government programs that did not exist when the fertility rate was higher, and so on).

The book also provided some additional context for the aforementioned Hagakure and The Book of Five Rings–although both purportedly represent the height of Bushido, the way of the warrior, they were both written after the wars in which the samurai fought, and Hogokare was not actually a military man–he was a scribe. Both of these books were written looking back at an earlier time, with a bit of nostalgia was well as disdain for the way things were when the books were written–that is, a peaceful period bordering on decadence.

So a good summary, overview course for someone just getting into Japanese history. As I’ve learned from listening to an audio course and reading a couple books on Chinese history, particulars will fade unless you continue studies with it, but highlights and perhaps some interesting stories will remain. As with the Chinese audio course, the names will fade a bit as I’ve heard them but have not seen them in print–so I might actually not recognizes them if I see them in print.

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Weird, How I Know The Source

So yesterday, I found myself watching Steven Wright’s first appearance on The Tonight Show:

I don’t even know how I got to that. Did I go to YouTube for something else and see that on the front page? Did a blog post it? I couldn’t tell you.

What I can tell you is that Wilder borrowed a joke from that routine yesterday:

The world is a really big place. Oh, sure, sometimes people say (when they run into a coincidence) that it’s a small world, but my standard response to that is, “let’s see you paint it.”

That alignment is interesting.

Does Google know I read Wilder every day, so it presented me with the source of the joke? Does Wilder read the same blogs I do and see the same post with the embedded video? Did everyone on YouTube get Steven Wright presented yesterday? Or is it just a little mind trying to detect patterns in mere coincidence?

When conspiracy theories become fact, print the conspiracy theories!

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Another Soundex Heard From

In addition to showing me ads for every individual song that Misa1 (not to be confused with Maysa or Misia) has released, Facebook has started showing me ads for Messa:

Who the heck is Messa? Apparently, the genre is described by Messa as Scarlet Doom.

Messa emerged on the first day of 2014. The extreme diversity of their musical background immediately proved to be essential in the construction of the band’s sound: Prog, Black Metal, Punk, Dark Ambient, jazz, Blues and Doom… all those influences have been channelled into a sonic cauldron that the band defines “Scarlet Doom”.

Here’s what they sound like:

Facebook sure seems to think I like some odd and disparate music. I’m not helping that I often purchase the odd and disparate music that Facebook shows me. But my Facebook feed is now 60% music offers, 25% other ads, and 15% posts by three or four people I worked with fifteen years ago.

Also, getting music from this disparate sources is going to make my next musical balance way out of whack, as well as tricky to compile and probably incomplete.

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Book Report: Star Trek 4 by James Blish (1971, 1975)

Book coverAs I mentioned when I recently went over Star Trek 3 that Blish, in his introduction, talks about how they decide which Star Trek episodes to include in each volume–basically, they’re going on fan requests, volume thereof. By the time this book comes out (1971), Star Trek has been off the air for a couple of years–by the time this printing occurs, it’s longer still (and man is about to or has just landed on another piece of the solar system for the last time). So they must have known or thought this might be a phenomenon. Whether they could even conceive then that it would lead to multiple television series and movie reboots fifty years later…. You know, probably not. That’s a long time in the future from 1971.

At any rate, this book collects some more episodes I remember. Previously, I called these iconic, but basically, it’s episodes I remember. Perhaps they’re iconic. Perhaps I just watched Star Trek a lot. I mean, I remember watching it on the little color television in my mother’s bedroom in the house down the gravel road in 1988 or so. Why was I watching it there? The 25″ television was in the living room. Perhaps the smaller television had better antennae, or perhaps I was grounded.

The episodes within include:

  • “All Our Yesterdays”, the one where they go back in time. Well, separately–Kirk, Spock, and McCoy get beamed to a planet where the population has all beamed into the past to avoid a catastrophe. A “librarian” still manning the device thinks the Enterprise team are stragglers, and he beams them into two different eras of the past separately–so the Enterprise crew needs to get themselves back to the present time.
  • “The Devil in the Dark”, the one with the Horta, with which Spock mind-melds and cries, “Pain! Pain!”
  • “Journey to Babel”, the one with Spock’s parents. Also, a plot, and Spock has to save Sarek.
  • “The Menagerie”, the one with Captain Pike. Originally shot as the show’s pilot, it was later aired with a framing story–the retelling here leaves out the framing story of Spock mutining to take the disabled Captain Pike back to the planet of the illusionists.
  • “The Enterprise Incident”, the one where the Enterprise enters Romulan space, and Kirk goes on trial for espionage.
  • “A Piece of the Action”, the one where Kirk and the Enterprise crew act like mobsters. Not a time travel episode as one would expect–they just visit a planet whose cultural development was based on a mob history from an Earth ship’s crash.

So I’m not remembering these episodes quite as clearly, but it’s been thirty years since I have watched Star Trek.

The books have made me want to acquire Star Trek on physical media. I know I’ve seen videocassettes of the series at a local thrift store. Last week, I hit the local antique mall with my Christmas gift certificates (which I can only use until June since they have six month expiration dates), and one of the things I had my eyes out for was such videocassettes. I thought I hit pay dirt at one booth with a shelf of 20 or 30 videocassettes, but they were Star Trek: The Next Generation. As I have the first two seasons on DVD, I was surprised to see that Paramount sold TNG two episodes to a VHS tape–it must have been early in the show’s run. So no Star Trek for my video shelves at this time, which is just as well as I have only watched a couple episodes of the first season of The Twilight Zone on the DVD set that I got not long after reading The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia.

Also, I should note that the next couple of books–Star Trek 5-7, Star Trek 9-10–I have read relatively recently (2005), so my remembering the episodes might just as well be my remembering reading the stories. Although, as I mentioned, I read a great number of these books in middle school or high school, so one cannot expect any of them to be truly green field. Although they are quick enough reads.

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Something I’ve Noticed

We have an older cat with bad teeth whom we’ve started to serve moist cat food twice a day. He likes to nibble at it and lick the gravy, only sometimes going with gusto, and after he finishes, we have protocol for which cats can eat the remainder and in what order. First, Radar Love goes, and then the black cat can nibble (although the last day or so, she has insisted on going first). Then, in the mornings, throw open the office door, which means Chimera bursts through and has generally finished the can of food. In the evenings, I will meter Foot into the office so he can eat some meat before Chimera finishes it.

Which has meant going through a couple of cans of moist cat food every day for the last six months or so.

I’ve generally bought giant boxes of it at the warehouse store, Fancy Feast or Friskies, but the last couple of months, the store has not stocked any. So I’ve started looking for it at the grocery or department store, and there the sections are getting kind of thin.

I mean, correlation does not equal causation. But saying “correlation does not equal causation” does not disprove causation.

All I’m saying is that when cheap Chinese brands of Moist Cat Food start appearing to replace it, I fear the actual contents of the tins.

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Good Book Hunting, Saturday, March 19, 2022: ABC Books

It has been a really long time since I’ve been to ABC Books for a book signing (last November?) Our late winter Saturdays, at least when ABC Books has had book signings, were given over to archery meets in nearby towns, and the school tends to play other schools that are south and southwest of town, not on the north side of town (except for the soggy cross country meet last October. So when I saw a book signing posted this week, I thought about it, and as my gym time ended about 10:30, I was able to stop by on the way home even though it added an hour to my trip home.

At any rate, the martial arts section was virtually gone; two books and a shrinkwrapped Tae Kwon Do DVD. I still found a couple of things, and not inexpensive things.

I got:

  • John D. McDonald: A Checklist of Collectible Editions & Translations by David G. MacLean. It’s a saddle-stapled chapbook from 1987 that lists first editions of McDonald’s work along with some pricing information from 35 years ago. I will count this as a book I’ve read when I have flipped through it and nodded at the titles I have or I’ve read.
  • Philosophies of India by Heinrich Zimmer / edited by Joseph Campbell (yes, the Hero’s Journey guy). It’s a sixties textbook edition, but covers some of the myriad religions of India.
  • The Ocean Inside Kenji Takezo by Rick Noguchi. From the poetry section. I picked it up because I am finishing an audio course on Japanese cultural history. Although Noguchi is an American, my dabbled Nipponohilia is not discriminating.
  • Hope Dealer by David Stoecker, the author signing books. His book is the story of his recovery from addiction and advice for those doing the same.

I was most disturbed that Mrs. E., the proprietrix, was not present. Instead, there was another woman who referred to “her inventory,” and I feared that the book store had changed hands. The owners have changed churches, so I don’t see them except for when I visit the book store. I asked if she was the new manager, but she said she was just Mrs. E’s sub. Which is good; I should hate for the book store to change hands, but on the other hand, it would save me a drive and I could return to haunting Hooked on Books.

Once in a while, I will have the urge to read all the books from a trip to a bookstore, but given that this run brought a textbook, I shall not likely do that soon with this trip.

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On Shanghai Knights (2003)

Book coverIn 2000, or a little before, someone thought, “Hey, what if we remade Rush Hour, but instead of Chris Tucker playing Chris Tucker, we have Owen Wilson playing Owen Wilson (as seen recently in You, Me, and Dupree and Starsky and Hutch? And we set it in the old West?” The result was Shanghai Nights, wherein Jackie Chan plays Jackie Chan (named Chon Wang, because why not go for the easy joke?), a fish out of water. I haven’t seen that film, so I can’t tell you too much about it other than that.

It was a success, resulting in this sequel, wherein Jackie Chan’s father, keeper of the Imperial Seal (not the animal), is killed and the seal is stolen. Chan’s sister, played by Fann Wong, has sent a puzzle box to Jackie Chan along with a letter that his father had died. So Jackie Chan has to go to New York, to collect Owen Wilson who is grifting as he has poorly invested their proceeds from the previous film. Then, they’re off to London, where somehow Jackie Chan knows the stolen seal has gone. They find that Jackie Chan’s sister, played by Fann Wong, has gone ahead and tried to kill the man who stole the seal. While trying to bring the thief to justice, they uncover a plot to place a low-ranking royal on the throne while simultaneously placing the leader of the Boxer Rebellion on the Chinese throne.

We get a lot of anachronistic improbabilities, of course–I mean, c’mon, man, someone goes into Whitechapel at night in 1887, you know we’re going to see Jack the Ripper–which is not so bad if you’re familiar with the time enough to know they’re playing. But to kids these days, will they know? Probably not. But this is an old movie to them anyway. And I am an old man.

I might have mentioned Fann Wong played Jackie Chan’s sister. I mentioned it twice. Let’s talk more about her.

Continue reading “On Shanghai Knights (2003)”

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Media Trying To Make The Greitens Thing Happen

GOP split on alternative to Greitens in Missouri Senate race

Report: Trump won’t rule out Greitens Senate endorsement

C’mon, man. Although it’s been years since I was active in the party, I’ve seen reports that the former governor (was he the governor? it was so brief, and so long ago) is polling way, way down, maybe even lower than the St. Louis attorney who faced off with protrioters in his gated community whilst holding a gun.

Back in the day, the media piled on Greitens, especially when a Sorosecutor brought shaky charges against him (dropped after he resigned), and watchdog after watchdog filed spurious ethics complaints against him.

Now, the media wants us to believe he’s the Trump man? That the other qualified candidates are but alternatives to him?

One suspects the media wants this flawed candidate to win the primary so he can lose the general (a la Claire McCaskill’s pumping Todd Akin (which she later admitted in a piece for Politico magazine)).

I have my ranking of candidates for the primary, and Greitens is not listed. Even if Trump does eventually endorse him.

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Who Has “Religious War in Europe” for 2023?

Today, Kim du Toit posted a news roundup which included a link to a Breitbart story German Cardinal Celebrates Mass Marking ‘20 Years of Queer Worship’:

German Cardinal Reinhard Marx celebrated a Mass Sunday to commemorate “20 years of queer worship and pastoral care” in Munich, Germany.

“I desire an inclusive Church, a Church that includes all who want to walk the way of Jesus,” said Cardinal Marx, the archbishop of Munich and an adviser to Pope Francis.

According to the archdiocesan website, the cardinal was preaching to a “queer congregation.”

In his homily, Marx insisted that Jesus himself was opposed to “those who exclude” but rather “would like to invite everyone with the primacy of love!”

“The kingdom of God is to discover that God is love — in all its dimensions,” said Marx, which includes “the sexual dimension.”

One cannot take it too lightly because it’s on Breitbart, as the New Oxford Review‘s editor thinks a schism might be brewing on the continent:

World, be warned: The Germans are on the march again.

This time they’re boldly tramping down the Synodal Path, and they’re being led by their nation’s Catholic bishops. And many in the Church are worried that their final destination will be schism.

Two years ago, the German Church launched a reform program, prompted by revelations of decades of rampant clerical sexual abuse and episcopal cover-up. At first it sounded like good and even necessary work. But over time, the focus of the reform movement, otherwise known as the “Synodal Path,” shifted, eventually homing in on a list of “binding” reforms that, if approved by the bishops’ conference, would contradict longstanding Catholic teaching on issues such as same-sex relationships, ecumenism, lay roles in the Mass, clerical celibacy, and women’s ordination. The recent release of the “Fundamental Text,” the document guiding the German Church’s deliberations, raised many an ecclesiastical eyebrow. At one point, it states that the Catholic Church appears “regressive…especially in the field of gender justice, in the evaluation of queer sexual orientations, and in dealing with failure and new beginnings.” Elsewhere, it states that “there is no one truth of the religious, moral, and political world, and no one form of thought can lay claim to ultimate authority.”

Such worldly “wisdom” masquerading as Catholic theology is why many observers are speculating that the German Church’s march down the Synodal Path could lead to its severing from the Church of Rome.

The whole article requires registration/subscription to New Oxford Review, but clearly Pieter Vree takes the situation in Germany very seriously.

You know, I am half-Catholic, and I like some of its doctrine over Protestant equivalents, but the Church itself is more worldly than heavenly these days, and probably has been since its inception.

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Springfield Police Dept. reminds you to take advantage of “Safe Exchange Zone”:

Police remind you to think twice when meeting up to buy an item from someone you meet online.

Springfield Police Department investigators reports recent robberies when people meet up to buy off of Facebook Marketplace or other outlets. Police set up parking spots at the police station designated for internet purchases. The area is well-lit with security camera footage.

Investigators say on March 9, a victim met two unknown people in Springfield after connecting on Facebook to buy a Playstation. They met at a Walmart. Investigators say during the exchange the driver pulled a gun on the victim.

* * * *

The safe exchange zone parking spots are available 24/7.

But just last week, the headline was Springfield PD lobby and phone hours change due to staffing shortage:

Starting Monday, March 14th, the hours that the phones are answered, and the lobby is open at the Springfield Police Department on East Chestnut Expressway are being reduced. Previously, the lobby was open from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and then from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Phone lines were open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. every day of the week. Now, the lobby and phones will be closed over the weekend, and phones will only be answered until 5 p.m. during the week. This does *not* impact 911 calls.

It sounds like the cuts might only impact one police station, but the other has lobby hours that are not 24/7.

One wonders if the “Save Exchange Zone” only offers cameras and the possible presence of a police officer passing by.

You know, like a Walmart parking lot.

More of the messaging that you’re safe because there are cameras. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I believe that is magically fallacious.

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Brian J.’s Recycler Tour Goes Round and Round

Several funny things posted on this day in history.

March 15, 2014:

Trivia fact: In the song “Norwegian Pie”, Don McLean drives his Ford to the fjord.

March 15, 2012:

Brian J. Noggle points out that, in the Marvel Universe, they would only be the Teenage Ninja Turtles since their powers came from alteration, not birth.

March 15, 2011:

Brian J. Noggle expects that, with all the inflation, the Mötley Crüe song will have to be covered as “Girls, Girls, Girls, Girls”.

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Book Report: Star Trek 3 by James Blish (1968)

Book coverAs I mentioned, I’m going to plow through the James Blish adaptations of Star Trek short storizations this year since I apparently have them all (and two of some of the later ones). (See also Star Trek and Star Trek 2 and, just to make this post forward compatible, the search for Star Trek book reports that mention James Blish which includes some of the books I’ve previously reported on and some books I compare to James Blish).

This book collects many iconic episodes, including:

  • “The Trouble with Tribbles”, the one with the little puff ball creatures that takes place on a disputed space station.
  • “The Last Gunfight”, the one where the Enterprise away team is going to be executed by aliens in being the losing side in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
  • “The Doomsday Machine”, the one which gets retread in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: An alien artifact, speculated to be a doomsday machine launched by an ancient alient race, destroys everything in its path, and it’s headed toward Earth.
  • “Assignment: Earth”, the one, unlike “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” from Star Trek 2, is the one with Gary Seven. A human groomed by aliens is sent to Earth to do something in the past, and the Enterprise crew has to determine whether to help him or stop him.
  • “Mirror, Mirror”, the one where Spock has a beard. Several members of an away team, beamed through an ionic storm, end up in a parallel universe where the Federation is instead a violent Empire.
  • “Friday’s Child”, the one where the Enterprise away team is caught in a power struggle between primitive tribes who control resources that the Klingons also want. To be honest, I didn’t remember this one very clearly, but it’s got tropes that seem familiar.
  • “Amok Time”, the one where Spock goes through Pon Farr and has to return to Vulcan to mate, much to his high Vulcan chagrin.

You know, I have remembered many of the episodes in the first three books in the set, and I wondered a bit if the stories were in series order, but clearly not–we have yet to see “The Menagerie”, for example. Given the way the budget for the program was cut in the second and third seasons of the series described in Star Trek Memories, I wondered if the first books in the series would front-load with the best and most iconic storylines, and whether the stories would become less familiar as time went on.

Well, the introduction of Star Trek 4, already in progress, explains that 1., the series has already ended when Blish is writing the books, and 2.), Blish is kind of responding to fans’ recommendations of what stories to include. So the early books are not necessarily the television episodes in order by season, but rather popularity. Which will be the same result; since the series runs 11 volumes, they probably get all of the episodes in.

At any rate, I’m kind of interested to see if my familiarity with the stories diminishes as the series goes on, but my familiarity with the stories comes not only from watching the shows in syndication, but also in reading these books when I was younger and re-reading 5-10 in 2005.

More interesting for me than for you, gentle reader, but bear with me.

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On the Big Game

So my boy’s, formerly my boys’, school announced that they would have the traditional parents/kids basketball game this year. Which is odd; this is the sixth year at least one of our boys has played basketball, well, off and on for quarantines and small class sizes, and this is the first year we’ve heard of the game. But I was kind of excited to participate with my son, who is off to high school next year, so it seems like our participation in school things kind of feels like a workplace after you’ve given notice—a bit distant, with the knowledge that everything will go on without you, and people might not miss you that much. Continue reading “On the Big Game”

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Book Report: Heidi by Joanna Spyri (1881, 1954?)

Book coverI know, I know, I know; a couple weeks ago, I posted that like others, I haven’t read the Harry Potter novels because they’re for kids. But here I go again, reading a nineteenth century children’s book (like Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates or the Little House books or Me and My Little Brain) and thinking that makes me better than those who draw lightning bolts on their heads, wear robes, and cosplay.


If you don’t know the plot because you grew up after this book was popular for children, that being in the latter part of the 20th century and beyond, the book deals with a five-year-old orphaned girl whose aunt took care of her for a while after her mother died, but the aunt has a job offer that does not allow for childcare. So the aunt takes the girl to her grandfather’s shack high up on an Alp and leaves her there. The grandfather is a bit of a hermit and a bit of a curmudgeon, but he warms to the girl and reintegrates into the Swiss village a bit. During an interlude, Heidi’s aunt gets her a job as a companion for a rich invalid girl, and Heidi enlivens the household–although she upsets the ways of the household help already in place. When she becomes depressed from being away from her mountain, the rich household sends her home, and in turns they come to visit her and enjoy the fresh mountain air. When Klara, the “invalid” girl, gets a couple months of rich goat milk and mountain air, she is strengthened to the point where she can walk.

So, basically, it’s Punky Brewster in 19th Century Switzerland–although Punky Brewster is better described as a 20th century Heidi in an American city with a dog instead of goats.

Like Hans Brinker, it has a lot of quaint details, and it made me want to visit Switzerland more than Hans Brinker made me want to visit the Netherlands. Is it the Netherlands or simply Netherlands? I guess we will find out when the Russians invade and suddenly the media corrects our long-standing misconceptions.

I bought this book with a number of others in the series–Hans Brinker, Black Beauty, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Alice in Wonderland among them. I think I bought them before children, and I never did read them to my boys when they were young enough to listen to their father at all, much less for hours. So I’ll read them now–and never mind that they’re young adult books. They’re classic literature, you see. Don’t you?

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