This is more just personal stuff that I’ve observed, taken note of and had an affect on me. Nothing world shattering, though the shattering events of the world does in the end have an affect on me.
New stuff as we get older
Maybe it’s the way I grew up, but at one time as I was accumulating stuff (by stuff I mean electronics) I never once imagined my parents getting into some of the same stuff. This first came about when my dad bought a digital camera and a netbook. Not a laptop, a netbook. One of those smaller computers with no CD drive, but was essentially a computer nonetheless. My dad has been taking lots of photos, including the structures of old school buildings in Saskatoon. There’s a lot with some very unique designs. He wants to do the same with many of the city’s churches, and that includes more than just protestant and catholic places of worship. Saskatoon has two mosques and a synagogue after all. It’s a good project for someone my father’s age, and it’ll keep himself busy. At some point I think I may show him flickr so he can upload his photos and have a digital backup of everything he takes pictures of.
But now my folks have stepped it up, so to speak. Because most television stations switched to HD, it forced them to get a new television. Then one day out of the blue, my mother said “we’re thinking of getting a DVD player”. That took me aback, but it kind of made me happy. I could share some of my movies with my parents. Not stuff like the Watchmen or Green Hornet (the original TV series, not the horrid movie) or V For Vendetta. But movies like Waking Ned Devine, or the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or A Beautiful Mind, and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou. Those types of movies my folks would like. Very little swearing, no gratuitous nudity or sex. Mind you, while L.A. Confidential had a lot of swearing and violence, my dad watched it because it had a good plot premise. But since my parents bought a DVD player (which they paid $15 for at XSCargo in Saskatoon) they’ve borrowed a lot of movies from the public library. It also means I can make “mix tape” cd’s for my folks and give it to them, because they can play those on the DVD player as well. No, they don’t own a CD player. I’m thinking I may make a Patsy Cline CD for mom, she enjoyed listening to my copy when we’d play Scrabble together.
It’s A Wonderful Time Of Year, mostly because I have so many days off
The past two weeks will be weird. I say will be, because I’m including the days up to the third of January. On December 20th, it was our first day of closure at the office for the Christmas season. I had to go in to deliver newspapers, but after that, I went back home and crawled under a warm blanket again. Partly because I was tired, but also because it was freakin’ cold outside. Friday past without the end of the world, along with the arrival of my Kindle, and the only rushed day was Christmas as I drove to the city to visit my parents. On the 27th it was back to work for two days, putting together a newspaper for the third. Which we did in two days. A 16 page newspaper, with two pages of it being a year in review. We were running out of copy, so I sat down and wrote an editorial on new years resolutions (which I’ll share with everyone at a later date here). I don’t often write articles, unless it happens to be an Outlook Ice Hawks’ Hockey game. Because I volunteer to do the public address announcements, so I may as well take photos and jot down notes to have a report for the paper as well. But these two weeks feel weird because there’s been constant days off separated by two days of work in the middle of it. As of this writing, it’s Saturday morning, and I won’t have to go back into work until Wednesday. That’s a four day long weekend.
Rocket Fox, the story that became a monster
I sometimes wonder if I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew by resurrecting this thing I started when I was 12, updating it and adding to it and expanding it. The world of Rocket Fox has gone from a single species of fox like humanoids on a planet over 50 thousand light years from Earth, to a planet with three individual and unique species (still 50 thousand light years from Earth). Now there’s the Vulpine (fox like humanoids), the Felanus (lesser cat like humanoids), and the Procylon (raccoon like humanoids). All of them stand no taller than 4 feet, but they are all of varying degrees of intelligence, have their own skills, their own cultures (which, admittedly, mirror Earth’s because I only have Earth as a reference), sports and religion and science. I’m half way through the first part of this series, but I’m contemplating doing some more world building before I go on. Even drawing up uniform designs, clothing designs, culture of different races and so on. After all, the Vulpine will vary in their cultures, there are different races of Vulpine, Felanus and Procylon. Foxes themselves have different species within the genus and species; the common red fox, the arctic fox, the swift fox, the kit fox, and the fennec fox. There will be examples of each in the story. Same with lesser cats; ocelots, caracals, cervals, lynx, sand cats, and even cheetahs and cougars (though, due to size, I’m considering leaving cougars out of the mix, while making a cheetah like humanoid slightly taller than most Vulpine, Felanus and Procylon). For the most part, my research of the raccoon has shown there aren’t many different breeds such as lesser cats and foxes. As far as lesser cats go, I’ll just be dealing with wild varieties of lesser cats, not domesticated cats, which are also lesser cats.
One might ask “where did this entire idea come about of using different species of foxes and lesser cats”. That’s easy. I’ve always had an interest in space exploration and science fiction, and some ideas I’ve gotten in the past came from covers of supermarket tabloids. Like the time I was 11 and saw a cover story about scientists believing that dinosaurs very likely would have evolved. That’s how this entire idea came about. But it went further than that. Earth, for example, has thousands of species on it, including humans. What if, somewhere in the galaxy, on another habitable planet, the evolutionary chain affected another species. Not primate like, but something else. What if it was wolves, or tigers, or lions who were given the evolutionary advantages to become the dominant species on a planet. What if it was one of the smaller species, like foxes, lesser cats or raccoons. It sort of ballooned from there, and during my 12th year on this planet, the idea came about and I wrote stuff down. It sat in a box for almost 20 years, until I dug it out, dusted it off and decided to take another stab at it. But it has grown a great deal since I was 12. There’s a lot more that can be explored.
One of those ways of exploration of the society of Vulpinia Prime was given to me as a suggestion by a friend. She said instead of writing history as the story is told, have sections of that history in an appendix at the back of the book. Good idea, so I’ll do just that. From slang terms, to different species, to histories of the planet, and even some maps and pictures.
Oh, I’ve also been asked where I came up with the names for the three species. Vulpine comes from vulpes vulpes, the genus and species of the fox. Felanus comes from Felidae, which is the family of all lesser cats. It grows more complicated with each species, such as Ocelots being Felidae Leopardus L. pardalis, and lynx being Felidae Lynx lynx. The name for the raccoon like humanoids comes from the genus of raccoons, Procyon. I just added the ‘l’ in there on my own.
Star Trekking across the universe…
I think it should be obvious to most, I am pretty much a Trekkie (or Trekker, whichever one prefers). I’ve watched every series (including the animated series), and was pretty pissed when Enterprise was cancelled. Mostly because there was word they were going to explore the Catians, the feline race of the Star Trek universe, in season five. But I noticed a major difference between the different series and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot. While it’s entertaining and fun to watch, there’s something with the new Star Trek that’s missing. Something those four different series had in common. That something missing is hope. The common underlying factor in every series, from the original to Enterprise was there was a tone of hope. Star Trek was actually a series that allowed Gene Roddenberry the chance to explore societal issues in the present day without having to explain things to the censors. Basically, he snuck issues of race relations, wage disparity and gender politics past the censors in 1966 and continued to do so with Next Generation. Rick Berman picked it up from there, and it even allowed people like Avery Brooks to explore some of that as well (Brooks not only played Sisko, but he directed several episodes of Deep Space Nine including the groundbreaking episode Far Beyond The Stars).
The original series broke ground having not just a black woman on the show, but also a Japanese American at the helm. There are a lot of stories about Nichelle Nichols treatment while working on that original show, and how she was hired as day labour. Nichols went onto assist NASA in the recruitment of women and people of colour to add to NASA’s ability to explore and study space. George Takei has gone on to become a huge proponent of gay rights and has been very outspoken of Japanese American history, especially touching on his own experiences from internment camps for Japanese during World War II.
This continued on throughout the other television series, as Next Generation explored things like torture, touching on gender and even transgender in an episode or two. Deep Space Nine took another step by having a black man as the first commanding officer in the television series. It often goes unsaid, but Avery Brooks wasn’t the only person of colour, as along with Michael Dorn who played Worf, Alexander Siddig played the role of Dr. Julian Bashir, chief medical officer for the space station. Voyager continued this tradition by having predominantly female crew members in positions of authority, as Kate Mulgrew played the role of Captain Kathryn Janeway, and Roxann Dawson played B’Elanna Torres, chief engineer of Voyager. Dawson herself had a lot of say in the development of the character, and the episode Extreme Risk, Torres continually pushes herself in dangerous holodeck simulations that almost kill her, was praised by fans as being one that tackled the issues of depression and inner conflict that many deal with daily.
Even Enterprise stepped up its game, as it explored what the history of Starfleet was, and how it went about meeting those new civilizations. Using humanity as a backdrop in meeting new cultures and how it has to deal with those new cultures and with its own survival in this new frontier. It would have been interesting to see how the series would have played out had it gone to seven full seasons like Next Gen, DS9 and Voyager had.
But the reboot, I don’t see any of that hope that the series provided. Entertaining, yes, definitely. There might be a glimmer of hope, in that the characters have that hope of coming together in a way we’re all familiar. But not in the same way that hope is mirrored in reality.