Exercise and Work

I blame Scalzi for this.

At the end of that post about how unhealthy life is for bloggers (we’re all gonna DIE) he mentioned giving them all stationary exercise bikes with laptop desks so they could do cardio while trolling the Internet. That sent me off looking to see if such things existed, because considering how many people spend all day at a computer, it seems like it should. It does. But the company doesn’t seem to get a lot of business. I suspect it has something to do with that website. You cannot convince geeks to buy your stuff if your website isn’t sleek.

Also, the workstation is out of stock. But, I thought, I have a laptop desk — one like this — why not just buy a recumbent bike? Then I can roll the desk over to me and be in business. I started researching and found several that might work. I’m partial to this one because it has less to get in the way of my desk. But this one is cheaper.

Then there is this thing, which is meant to go under a desk and is much more portable/storable. Another version of it, with less hardware. I haven’t the slightest clue if it’s any good or what makes a good exercise bike. Anyone want to enlighten me?

I can’t afford most of them, honestly. And I wish I could try them out to see if they worked. Still, it would be peachy keen to exercise while I do computer stuff. Might even get me geared up to actually venture out into the sun.

Anyway, as my birthday is coming up, I will ask folks, if they are so inclined, to contribute toward getting such a beast. If you would like to, there’s a little button on the sidebar of my site which will exist there until the end of April.

Same Plot, But Who Did It Best?

I was highly amused by this list of The 10 Most Insane, Child-Warping Moments of ’80s Cartoons, which I found through the Jem mailing list I’m on (shut up). It’s weird because some of the stuff at the “bottom” is far more traumatizing than the stuff at the top. I think they have the numbering backwards.

I’d forgotten about that episode of GI-JOE with Shipwreck’s fake family and the androids that melted and ahhhh that was so messed up! Though I have to say not as creepy as the part in the GI-JOE movie where Cobra Commander was turned into asnake-human beast and kept repeating “I used to be a man…. I used to be a man…” The black GI-JOE nearly punched him out.

Anyway, the Shipwreck episode got me thinking about reused plots because I just watched a Star Trek: TNG episode with a similar story. The one where Riker wakes up 10 years in the future, he’s the captain of the Enterprise, has a son, and is all WTF I don’t remember any of this! And at first he thinks it’s a Romulan plot but then it’s not. I’m pretty sure the GI-JOE ep came first, but I can’t be sure.

Not that this is some major thing, TV shows often recycle plots, and often there are plots that you always see in certain genres of shows. Sitcoms have their own, dramas have their own, and SF shows have their own.

Just off the top of my head, there’s the your life was actually a crazy hallucination plot. Like that episode of TNG where Riker (why is it always Riker?) thinks he’s going crazy and an alien psychiatrist tries to convince him that his whole life on the Enterprise was made up in his head. Someone once informed me that this happened on Buffy, too, while we were watching a Stargate: Atlantis episode where Wier was the one who thought she was crazy.

There’s the time loop plot, where characters keep experiencing the same slice of time over and over, sometimes without realizing it for a while. This happened on TNG, but my favorite one was the Stargate: SG1 episode where Teal’c and Jack were the only ones who saw that the day kept repeating itself, to hilarious results.

The evil counterpart plot, the most famous probably being the classic Star Trek episode where Kirk goes to the evil universe with a bearded Spock. This was later revisited on Deep Space Nine, though less successfully, IMO. There was a good TNG book about it, though. One of the only good episodes of Stargate: SG1‘s ninth season was of this stripe.

The out of phase plot, where characters are invisible and can’t be heard, but they aren’t dead, just shifted slightly off to the side. TNG again (Geordi & Ro), SG-1 again (Daniel), and at least two episodes of Strange Days at Blake Holsey High.

The who the hell is this person we’ve never seen before but was supposedly here the whole time? plot. From what I understand, Buffy’s sister’s entire storyline is this. Same goes for Cam on SG-1. That show also had an episode in the 4th or 5th season where an alien had a pheromone or something that implanted false memories in people to make them think they’d known him all along. Recently, Torchwood had something similar in the ep. “Adam”, though the alien in this case was much more sinister. More sinisterness in an episode of TNG where the whole crew lost their memories and suddenly there was some dude we’d never seen before pretending to be part of the bridge crew.

The bringing people back from the dead in messed up ways plot is usually about fan service. Like the time TNG brought back Tasha Yar as the Enterprise slipped into an alternate dimension, Callisto’s many appearances on Xena after she died, Kira’s boyfriend coming in from the evil dimension on DS9, and Janet & Martouf similarly coming over from another universe on SG-1. Torchwood‘s “They Keep Killing Suzie” isn’t really fan service, though.

Oh, and Character X meets her/his double! I like it best when the double is some random person not related to the character in question but who just happens to look exactly like them. There were several hilarious Xena episodes wherein we discovered two or maybe even three women who were mirror images of Xena (her dad got around a bit, methinks). Jem & the Holograms once met a princess who looked like Kimber (I think a lot of these plots have The Prince & the Pauper as their base). And that awful TNG episode where Riker (again, why always him??) meets himself, a dude who is actually his exact genetic double because of some transporter splicing (they blamed the transporter for every damn thing). I still hate that episode.

ETA:  Veejane and Deedop both pointed out variants of the Body Switching plot, the secret/surprise switch and the known switch. Classic Trek has the Kirk swaps with Janice Lester episode, SG-1 had an absolutely hilarious one where, eventually, Teal’c and Jack switched, and Chris Judge showed the real range of his amazing acting. Stargate: Atlantis also had an episode, as well as a very funny episode of Farscape.

Charlie brought up “the living-someone-else’s-life-in-your-head plotTNG did it with Picard to commemorate a civilisation and Voyager did it for a similar reason with most of the crew who thought they’d been involved in a war that was over centuries before they arrived. I suspect SG-1 have also done that one, experiencing false memories of some kind.”

There are more I can’t think of right now, help me out! Which plots that are mainly the province of SF shows do you see recycled all the time? And, of the different episodes that you’ve seen, which are the best exemplars?

SF Reddit?

SF Reddit?

Several months ago Ian Randal Strock (I think) was making noises about creating some system to aggregate/collect links to online magazines when they put up new issues. My memory on this is sketchy, but I remember thinking it was a good idea. I never heard anything more about it, though, so I’m guessing it never moved out of the idea phase.

I was thinking about it yesterday when poking around on Reddit.com. For those who don’t know, Reddit is a bit like Digg, but not as slick. People submit posts/articles and redditors vote on them (up or down) and the stuff with the most votes rises to the top of the main page. I just found out a few days ago that users can create subreddits on topics they’re interested in and other users can subscribe to subreddits and see the latest additions on a separate page. There’s a feminist one (that seriously needs some participation from non-assholes) and I found a couple of Short Story ones.

This got me thinking, would an SF/F/H subreddit be useful for what Ian or whoever suggested before? Editors would be encouraged to post whenever they had new fiction available or links to the individual stories, if they like. Readers would subscribe to the subreddit and get alerts whenever new fiction is available. The links from reddit go directly to the site with the content. And I believe subreddits have rss feeds, making things even easier.

Anyway, what do others think of this idea? Would you find it useful? Editors, would you find it annoying to announce new issues/fiction in this way?

ETA: I went ahead and created the subreddit. I figure if it takes off, it does.  If not, no skin off my knees.

Charlton Heston Died

You might think that on an occasion such as this I wouldn’t have much to say beyond “well, that’s one less right-wing person with a gun to hide from,” and yet I cannot really go there. Charlton Heston provided me with many, many (many) hours of amusement as a child and young adult. Because my favorite movies were Ben-Hur, The 10 Commandments, and The Greatest Story Ever Told. All of these had Charlton in them, and he made them ever so much funnier with his earnest overthetopness.

Even before I heard the thing about how Ben-Hur and Massala were gay, I though BH was an awesome flick. Between the Jesus theme music and the bad acting and the chariot race! Best scene ever.

And what wasn’t there to make fun of in The 10 Commandments? Charlton being as unconvincing a Jewish person as one could be? The beard? The random, unnecessary, but totally hilarious romance sub-plots? (Moses, Mooooooosessss, Maaaaooooosessss!!!) Also, Yul Brenner played his role to the HILT and outshone everyone. And by the end you want him to win just because he looks so damn sexy.

And need I say anything more about Greatest when I mention that Charlton spent a majority of hsi screen time dirty as hell while standing next to a large body of water? ha!

I love and will continue to love these movies. Thus, I’ll always be grateful to Heston for that. Hope you’re having fun shooting quail with God, dude. Or, you know, whoever.

Patrick Stewart PWNS Newsweek

In the back of the latest Newsweek there’s a Q&A with Patrick Stewart who is doing The Scottish Play on Broadway soon (or now). Mostly Newsweek Q&As are boring and stupid because whoever is asking the Qs (for this one it’s Nicki Gostin) is a really bad interviewer, for one, and is also insipid and dull. Generally the result is that the interviewees give boring, dull answers themselves, but Patrick decided to liven things up.

The funny:

Q: Did you ever get sick of the jumpsuit on “Star Trek”?

A: Sick of it? I came to loathe it. We actually got rid of it after the second season thanks to my chiropractor, who said if they don’t take you out of that costume we are going to slap a lawsuit on paramount for the lasting damage done to your spine.

Q: How does a jumpsuit damage your spine?

A: They were made from Lycra and one size too small. The producers wanted to have a smooth, unwrinkled look. It put a terrible amount of strain on the shoulders, neck, and back.

HAHAHAHAHA What the hell! Lycra and one size too small? This is almost as bad as trying to pretend those things didn’t have zippers. Oh Paramount, you never cease to astound me with your dumb.

Now the pwning:

Q: When you’re onstage, aren’t you worried about weird Trekkie fans in the audience?

A: Oh, come on, that’s just a silly thing to say.

Q: But they are weird.

A: How many do you know personally? You couldn’t be more wrong. Here’s the thing: if you say the fans are weird, that means there’s something essentially weird about the show, and there is nothing weird about it. I’m very passionate when people like you snigger.

Game. Set. Match.

Thank you, Patrick Stewart. I didn’t think I could respect you any more but you blew the ceiling off respect and built a superdome.

Also: fuck you, Newsweek (and Nicki Gostin).

(p.s. check out the comments at the link.)

ETA: Nicki got a bit fed up with the commentary, so provided her own:

Nikki Gostin here. Having read all of your comments regarding my interview with Patrick Stewart, all I can say is this: Get a life, people. If you don’t like my calling you weird, then stop acting weird. I’ve yet to meet a single Star Trek fan who wasn’t incredibly strange and obsessive, and I stand by my characterizatoin [sic]. Mr Stewart will always be Picard in my eyes, and in most people’s eyes, and so that was what I chose to focus on. I have years of experience as a journalist, and those of you taking me to task for how I chose to conduct myself in this particular interview are just jealous because I got to meet your god and you didn’t. If you think I’m at all insulted by any of your words, then you’re even weirder than I originally thought. There is nothing a flabby freak in an ill-fitting poiyester [sic] costume and pointy rubber ears could possibly say that would ever have any affect on me other than to make me laugh hysterically. I can’t believe you all took the time to write such nerdy and embarrassing responses to what was never intended to be more than a fluff piece. I’m a fluff writer. This is a fluff magazine. Hence, it’s a fluff piece–and the fact that none of you recognize this says far more about all of you than it says about me. And the reason my editor never responded to your e-mails is that you don’t rate. Accept it and move on, because I’m still here at Newsweek, and you’re still in your parents’ basements, wearing space pajamas. Peace out.

What a silly idiot she is. Unprofessional, too. Seriously, she’s calling other people out for their behavior when she’s responding like a 12 year old? Pfft. What an ass. (Thanks for the tip and emphasis, Rose!)