Dec 082017

Star Trek: Discovery is, in my opinion, the best Star Trek series since the original one. It might even be better than the original series, but it’s hard to top that since TOS was groundbreaking for the time. When I heard that CBS All Access was going to be showing the series exclusively through their subscription portal, I didn’t even hesitate to re-activate our account. It was last used to watch the most recent season of The Amazing Race, as we do not have cable, satellite, or a functioning antenna to catch over-the-air transmissions. I didn’t even think twice about it, because this is how we consume media these days. If there is a series on we want to see through a platform we don’t have access to we pay for it while the show is on and, when it’s over, we shut the service back off again.

It works well for us, because we don’t end up paying for services we don’t want.

Based on the number of people who want to burn the CBS studios to the ground over this decision, though, I guess we’re in the minority. I just don’t get it. People are enraged over the fact that a Star Trek series isn’t available for FREE.

Except, it never HAS been. Nothing in life is.

If you’re a subscriber to cable or a satellite service you’re paying for CBS.

If you’re watching a series on Hulu, Netflix or Amazon, you’re paying for those services.

You can make the argument that watching CBS using an antenna is free, but you’re still watching commercials…you’re paying for those shows by consuming advertisements.

Star Trek has never, ever, been “free.”

What’s more, I frankly don’t understand the outrage even if this was some kind of radical departure from conventional business practices. The commercial-free version of CBS All Access is roughly 10 bucks a month. For every month that the show runs, you get five hours of content for $10, IF the only thing you watch is Discovery. You’d pay the same, or more, to go see a first-run movie in a theater. I’ve seen people talk about waiting until the DVD comes out and buying it. Admittedly a cheaper option, if you don’t mind waiting to see if CBS makes it an option (something that, at this point, is unclear).

The folks that amuse me the most, though, are the ones who say they will wait until it comes to [insert streaming service here].

Really, though, I get kind of grossed out by the sheer entitlement of it all. Like these people deserve to see Star Trek, and it’s a personal affront if they must change their viewing habits in order to see it.

But then again, geeks are an odd bunch.

Dec 062017

I don’t remember exactly when this happened, but I believe it was in the Fall of 1993. I was living in Polk County at the time, working overnights at a plastics plant in Lakes Wales while attending school full time at the Polk Community College. For, perhaps, the first time outside of my early childhood I was at a healthy weight and exercising on a regular basis (it was, for the record, Slim-Fast that time…not something I’d suggest trying in retrospect). I was living with my friend and co-worker Bill in a nice apartment that we managed to keep clean. We had a decent sound system and an entire wall of VHS tapes and CD’s to entertain us. I had a comic subscription at an awesome shop in downtown Winter Haven, and had established a small circle of Polk County folks to play games with on a regular basis.

It was my first real taste of being a grown-up. Of independence. It was great.

I made regular pilgrimages back to St. Petersburg on the weekend to stay with my Mother for a few days and see my friends. On one of those weekends, I was running around by myself all day on a Saturday with the windows down, enjoying the alternative music programming that was on 88.5 WMNF. My hair was long, and my grunge look was in full effect. I felt good about myself and what I had accomplished. I was smiling and singing with the radio, when it suddenly hit me…

I liked me.

That thought had never occurred to me before, and there have been many times since that I’ve forgotten it, but in that very moment I was utterly and completely happy to know myself. “Here’s a guy,” I thought, “who I would enjoy hanging out with. He’s pretty damned cool.”

I think that for most of us it is rare to have those moments. I think it’s even harder to today, with the proliferation of technology. I was forced to be in my own head that day. I couldn’t distract myself with social media or handheld games. It was just me, myself, and I. No talking. No texting. No phone calls. Just spending time getting to know the person who lives in my head and discovering that he’s a person I am happy to know.

This isn’t a screed against technology by any means. It was just something that occurred to me earlier today as I was driving to work…

Listening to music.

Singing along.

Just alone in my head…in my car…having a moment like I did 24 years ago…

And realizing that I still find myself to be a pretty nifty guy.

Dec 052017

I do not understand blind loyalty.

My wife and I have a group text going with my Uncle, where we coordinate going to see movies and discuss things that we all have a common interest in (the primary categories being Marvel movies, sports, and technology). The other night he excitedly sent a text message to us about the fact that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was on. I replied that, after a few episodes, we had given up on the show because it had not sparked our interest.

You’d have thought I slapped his baby. Considering the fact that he doesn’t have children or pets, maybe I did.

A brief (and, I feel the need to point out, good natured) argument ensued about the fact that I should be Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and, for that matter, The Inhumans, because…Marvel. Really, that pretty much seems to be the extent of the argument. I love Marvel comics, and I love the movies, so as a result I should watch anything even tangentially related to those two things.

Not my style.  When it comes to entertainment I’m particularly picky in that regard. I’m not going to support something just because I, in theory, should. If a Marvel series sucks, I’m not watching it. If a Marvel movie doesn’t work for me, I’m going to say so (I’m looking at you, Thor: Ragnarok). If my local sports franchises suck I’m not going to waste my time watching them on television, and I’m certainly not dropping the significant coin required to see them play live (and if, for some reason, a sports franchise from another metropolitan area is doing well and catches my attention I’ll feel no guilt about rooting that team on).

If I have learned anything balancing work, school, family, and acting over the last 16 years, it’s that the single most precious thing in my life is my time. It’s a gift I can give to the people who care about me, and it’s a commodity I stockpile because there are periods when I feel like I simply do not have enough of it. I’m certainly not going to spend it consuming entertainment out of some sense of loyalty if it isn’t actually worth the investment.