Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blog # 16: Family Matters Part II

The day of this post is my birthday. It was a great lazy day off of work. I did a 3 mile walk at the local walking track, then my wife cooked a great roast beef dinner, then cake with the family. A truly great day, and for this blog post I am continuing with my stroll down memory lane with my family. Here's a couple tales of intrigue, suspense and good ol' family fun. Enjoy:

Red Ants
One lesson learned with my time spent with my cousin Lenny was never, NEVER, pee on a red ant pile!!! Anyway the story goes like this: I was about 5 years old and we lived at the old trailer court behind the Fort Motor Inn, in Fort Assiniboine, Alberta, Canada. One day I found this huge mound of dirt that had these little creatures crawling all over it, which I now know was a red ant pile. My cousin and best friend Lenny was being dropped off for a visit and I wanted to show him my discovery, Lenny was about 4 years old then. He was just as amazed by them as I was. I'm not sure who it was who came up with the idea of peeing on the red ant pile but it was decided by us both that it would be a good idea. So we whipped out our "ding-a-lings" and went to work giving the ants what is known in some circles as a "golden shower". And we laughed, and laughed, and laughed. We zipped up our fly's and patted each other on the back for a job well done. Then I noticed an ant on Lenny's shoulder. I swatted it off for him and soon discovered many more ants crawling around Lenny's shirt. Ants were all over Lenny now and he started to scream!!!! I looked down at my shirt and pants and discovered that I too was covered in red ants!!!! I screamed in pain as they began to bite me, and Lenny and I ran back to our house. My Mom heard our screams and we ran up to our deck. While still outside my Mom stripped us both down to our tighty whiteys in an attempt to get all the ants off our bodies. A lesson hard learned, never ever pee on a red ant pile. EVER!!!

Sister Moving Out
My sister is a married woman with a great and wonderful husband and they have a little boy by the name of Damien, who is near and dear to my heart. They have been living back in Canada but recently took a trip back to my brother-in-law's home nation of Sweden. Anyway this reminded me of the first time Brianna attempted to move out of our house. She was about 8 years old, and we were neighbours with the Dyck family's who had two girls Brianna's age. So one weekend afternoon Brianna makes the announcement to Mom, Dad and I that she wants to move to Emily and Wendy's farm. She thinks living there would be better than home cause they had cows, they went skiing, etc. Mom and Dad looked at each other and told her that would be a great idea and to go ahead. Brianna surprised at first slowly walked to her room to pack. I was 11 years old and oblivious to their ploy. "Why are you letting her move out?" I asked. "She won't leave, just watch" Mom said. A short time later Brianna came out of her bedroom with a suitcase. We all pretended not to notice her. "Good bye" Brianna said. "Yep see ya" we replied. Brianna slowly made her way out the door. We went to the front window and watched as Bri was slowly walking away from the house. She got about half way to the tree line when she stopped. She dropped her suitcase and began to cry, putting her head into her hands. Dad having what is known as the "Lockhart sense of humour" told me to go outside and tell her to get off our land. And that's what I did, I even picked up some small pebbles and threw them in her direction, missing her of course. This made her cry even louder as she said "I want to come home...". This only lasted for about 30 seconds then Mom and Dad went outside and went to Brianna, and they brought her back to the house. She unpacked her suitcase and never left again till she was about 21 or so. Sorry Bri, I was just doing what I was told to do....
And that is all folks. Take care!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blog #15: My New Ride

We got ourselves a 2011 Ford Fiesta. I traded off my Focus, needed something better on gas but also better on winter roads and I believe it is this car. It came fully loaded with heated leather seats, blue tooth, free satellite radio for 6 months...just an awesome deal. Also with it being one of the last of the 2011 models we got about an additional $2000 off.  We bought our car at 'Kentwood Ford' in Edmonton Alberta, and the service was incredible. Our sales people were a team of a father and his son and daughter and they couldn't have been nicer. This has been without a doubt the best car buying experience I have ever had. I also got to meet a local Edmonton celebrity, Scotty 'Bulldog' Olson, a former light weight boxer who fought for several years and represented Canada in the 1988 Olympics, among his many career achievements. He wasn't our salesman but after I spotted him in the dealership I asked our finance guy to arrange for me to meet him. I am not the biggest boxing fan, but my Grandpa Leonard was and I know he would have been thrilled to meet Scotty, and so was I. I scored this cool pick: 

I may be bigger than him but Scotty 'Bulldog' Olson could kick my butt I'm sure!!

They have an awesome referral program, so let ME know if you are in the market for a new Ford and I'll refer you. I get $500 bucks for the referral and You save $500 off the price of your vehicle. Everyone wins!

Our 2011 Ford Fiesta

Have a great week!

- Chris

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blog #14: Encounters Of The Geek Kind, Part I

Blog #14: Encounters Of The Geek Kind, Part I
Back in the early and mid 90's I attended 4 Star Trek conventions in
Edmonton. To say I was a bit of a nerd back then would be an
understatement, I lived and breathed Star Trek back then. My first
convention was October 1992 at the Coast Terrace Inn and I went with my
cousin Dwight. It was a lot of fun. There were a lot of people dressed like
Trek characters there and a lot of stuff to buy. There were thousands of
people there and the ballrooms were packed. They put on a good show with
clips and behind the scenes video's, they also have writer's and producers
as guest speakers. They have a costume contest with the winner getting lots
of free stuff then they end the day with a star coming on stage, the star
talks with the fans then signs autographs. October 1992 was Marina Sirtis,
also known as 'Counsilor Troi' on Star Trek: The Next Generation. She
really is smokin hot in person and I fell in love with her at first
sight....back then I was a 12 year old boy going through puberty. The only
things I remember from her on stage talking is the fact that Def Leppard is
her favorite band, she had to fight for the right to sit in the Captain's
chair for an episode, she doesn't believe in Trek's positive vision of the
future, she believes in a dark nuclear future. That's about all I remember.
I stood in line for almost an hour and finally I got my picture of her
signed. She was really nice and looked amazing.
The second convention I went to was in March 1993 and again at the Coast
Terrace. This time Nana Visitor was the guest star, she played 'Major Kira'
on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. At the time DS9 was a brand new show on TV
and she was the first DS9 character to appear in Edmonton. She was fun to
listen too but was very overdressed. She wore a giant sweater that was 10
times too big for her plus she wore giant round glasses. Maybe she found
Edmonton too cold. March 1994 I attended my third convention at the Coast
Terrace and this time Michael Dorn also known as "Worf" from Star Trek: TNG
and DS9 was the guest star. He was really cool and funny, and he was also
very big! He apparently played college football and he really is built like
a football player. I remember when I went up to him to get my autograph
signed he signed it and I said "Thank you, I'm a big fan of the show". And
he said "That's awesome man, thanks for watching". That was the only time I
actually said something more than just "Thank you" to a Trek star, but he
was a very cool guy. He didn't seem like a Hollywood star, he seemed like a
typical everyday guy.
The last time I attended a Star Trek convention was October 1994, this time
at the Shaw Conference Centre. This time they had an original U.S.S.
Enterprise model from the original Star Trek show on display which was
cool, wish I had had a camera with me there. This time James Doohan
"Scotty" from the original Star Trek was the guest star. He was very nice
and very honest to the fans. I learned he truly hates William Shatner
(Captain Kirk) and he blames him for holding him and other stars back on
the show creatively. Shatner apparently was a prima donna on the Trek set
and pissed a lot of the stars off. Doohan is also Canadian and a veteran of
WWII, and for a time lived in Edmonton. He was really nice and signed my
autograph, but I was too awe struck to say anything more to him other than
'Thank-you'. He published an autobiography with writer Peter David some
years later which I bought and read. In WWII he was there when the Canadian
and Allied forces stormed the beaches or Normandy, and was later crossing
between command posts at 11:30 that night, Doohan was hit by six rounds
fired from a Bren gun by a nervous Canadian sentry: four in his leg, one in
the chest, and one through his right middle finger. The bullet to his chest
was stopped by a silver cigarette case. His right middle finger had to be
amputated, something he would conceal during his career as an actor. A
truly amazing guy and after being shot he trained as a pilot for the
service and was once labeled the "craziest pilot in the Canadian Air
Forces." If you read the book he has an amazing story about landing a plane
on the German autobon, and years later at a Trek convention he met an
elderly fan who actually recalled seeing him land that plane on the autobon
during the war. Sadly Doohan passed away in 2005 at the age of 85.
Sadly that was also one of the last conventions held in Edmonton by
Creation Entertainment, the leading Star Trek Convention company. I'm not
sure why cause they were always sold out in Edmonton. When I looked on
their web site they only seem to go to Toronto and Vancouver now in Canada
and nowhere else. That's too bad cause I love going and I'd love to take my
kids, I think they would have fun there. People who have never went to Trek
conventions tend to label the people that go, especially the one's who
dress in costumes as nerds or losers. That may be true for some but most
people who go are regular everyday people who don't live in their Mom's
basement, they have jobs and families. Besides when you go to a football or
hockey game there are always people who wear team jerseys and sometimes
make-up...that's no different than someone who wears a Trek uniform or
costume. Put simply I would rather see a guy dressed like a Klingon or
Vulcan rather than a guy at a Eskimo's game in green paint, wearing only a
thong and watermelon on his head.
Thanks for reading. More Close Encounters To come...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blog #13: Getting 'Lost'

Blog #13: Getting 'Lost'

In this blog post I am discussing the Blue-Ray of the 6th and Final Season of 'Lost'. SPOILERS. They really did a great job with the Lost blue-ray releases and I recently re-watched mine. I watched the special features and the special features even made me teary eyed. 'Lost' was one of the best series ever made!! Definitely #2 of all time in my books!! But I still think Matthew Fox and Terry O'Quinn should have won best actor and best supporting actor in a drama for their work in season 6. I still cry like a little baby at the final scene of 'Lost' and I think that it is because of the fine acting done by Matthew Fox. And Terry O'Quinn most definitely should have won best supporting actor because in the 6th and final season he played 2 different characters. His original character was John Locke and he is a great lovable character. His second character was the 'Smoke Monster' in the form of the deceased John Locke, and that character was pure evil and sinister, and his actions would make you cringe. O'Quinn truly is a great actor and he should have won in my opinion

I also re-watched the final episode of 'Lost'. I think it is best final episode of any series I have ever seen. Any show that can bring tears to my eyes is an incredible show. A very amazing achievement in television. It was 2 and a half hours long but they could have added a whole extra hour and it wouldn't be enough for me.

I loved the 'Titanic' ish ending with all the dead coming together in the afterlife, really touching and heart warming for me. I truly believe in Heaven and I believe that when I die I will see all those who left before me, so watching this episode and learning the 'flash-sideways' season 6 story arc is all about that...I cried. Seriously I look like a big mean bastard but I am really a softy who gets teared up watching such things. One thing about 'Lost' is they are not afraid to kill off popular characters and it was great to see them back for the final episode and see our favourite's reunite: The scene with Charlie, Claire and Aaron made me cry. Ben saying sorry to Locke outside the church for having killed him...almost lost it there too. The very ending with Christian and Jack and Jack realizing he is dead...yep I cried then too.

Again they didn't answer all questions but they answered enough for me, anymore would have been overkill. Some things are best left to the imagination of the viewers such as:

- What happened to Kate, Claire, Sawyer, Myles, Richard and Frank after they left the island?

- What happened with Hugo in the role of 'Jacob' and Ben in the role of 'Richard'?

- What exactly is the island and who built the fountain?? God or other 'God's' (like Zeus/ Jupiter etc) build it?

- Who took over for Hugo as protector of the island when he died? Walt I'm assuming based on the special features but really who knows?

- How was Hugo able to leave the island like Jacob could, and did he visit his parents and the others who left?

- Why did Jin let himself die with Sun when they have a daughter to raise back in South Korea?

- Ben was a bad guy who did worse things than Micheal, yet Micheal is trapped as a ghost on the island and Ben gets to possibly go to Heaven...shouldn't Ben have been trapped as a ghost on the island too?

- Why did Sayid choose Shannon instead of Nadia?

But as I said, some questions may best be left unanswered.

I would loved to have seen Hurley as the new 'Jacob', and Ben as his 'Richard'. Wish a few more people would be seen in the church, like Richard for example. Did his grey hair mean that he can now age and will die?? The only thing that I didn't like was that they didn't show 'Smokey' in his smoke form on the last ep. I was kinda hoping they would finally show the transformation of Smokey into Locke, but I guess some things are best left to the imagination...which is what I think the point of the finale was. The last scene made me cry, yes I admit that. Powerful stuff!!

I am actually glad they didn't explain everything. 'Lost' has always been open to interpretation and I was glad they left it like that. The last episode exceeded my expectations and I as a devoted 'Lost' fan am left satisfied. Truly a great and wonderful final episode.


Namaste and Good Luck to all of you.

- Chris

Monday, January 16, 2012

Blog #12: Family Matters Part I

Blog #12: Family Matters Part I

As part of my blog on 'Blogspot' I have decided to share with you several stories from my life and family. Those of you who have read my 'Facebook' blog may be familiar with the stories here, but they are still entertaining in my humble opinion. Family Matters will be a regular topic on my blog so look forward to future posts. Thanks for reading!

"My Mom, My Coach"

While growing up my Mom coached my softball team from the mite level all the way to the bantam level, I believe 8 years total. A lot of years we won the county tournament because my Mom was a great coach and all the kids loved her. She not only taught us the rules of the game and how to play but she taught us about good sportsmanship. Even when you lose you act on your best behaviour. There's nothing worse than a poor sport or worse, a cheat. We played by the rules and never broke them. A good coach can spot the strengths and weaknesses in their players and work with them and around them. That is how a good team is formed and that is why my Mom was a great coach.

Now let me tell you a story about the worst case of poor sportsmanship I have ever witnessed. It involved a "fun" tournament in the nearby town of Sangudo. We received an invitation to put in a team at a fun tourney in Sangudo, I think the year was 1994. My Mom put our team in with a few additions from the other school team in our age group. I believe the team consisted of: myself, Joe Olson, Karyn Olson, Vicki Mack, Shawna Wood, Erin Williams, Lenny LaBerge, Colleen Pederson, the Jousett twins, Brian Williams and that is all I can remember, sorry if I forgot you.

Before going to the tourney my Mom was told by the organizer that they were playing by the same rules as the Barrhead county rules, which we were used to. Each county has their own sets of rules that are options from the rule book. For example in our county there was no windmill pitching, there had to be a male pitcher to a female back catcher and vice versa. You had to field at least 3 girls, no one over the age of 14 and so on. My Mom was told those rules applied to this tournament. Imagine our surprise to learn that the Sangudo tourney was not following the rules of which we were accustomed. The Sangudo teams were windmill pitching with a male pitcher and male back catcher. No girls in the outfield and it was pretty obvious their "A" team was filled with boys older than 14....these guys were huge! We even became aware some of their team had driven to the tournament in their own vehicles.

When my Mom asked the organizer why we were not playing by the county rules she was told they changed their minds, after we had payed our entry fee of course. Rather than quit my Mom did what any good coach would do. She evaluated her players and moved us around into different positions as needed based on our strengths. Joe pitched because he was wicked at windmill and Lenny back catched. We worked through it as a team and on Sunday we made it to the A-Final against the Sangudo "A" team.

These kids on the Sangudo team taunted us with rude and hateful comments when we went up to bat. To make it worse their coach only encouraged their bad behaviour. Their parents even taunted and ridiculed us. We were ready to break down, ready to give up and walk away but my Mom held us together. She told us at our bench:

" Your better than them. You can win, go out there and help each other and we'll win the trophy!"

Even with the Sangudo Umpire against us we went to work and played the toughest game of our little lives. Despite the "boos" and other taunts from the other team and their parents guess what happened? WE WON. We won and beat them only by a few runs as I recall but it was enough. The parents of the other team booed and walked away in disgust, some of them even accused us of cheating. The other coach told his team to go home and they refused to shake our hands. The organizer of the tournament never brought us our trophy, and we never did get the trophy ever.

But it didn't matter, we won and beat the odds. We proved to ourselves that despite the odds never give up, always play the best you can and never cheat. My Mom helped us to achieve our victory, we were the champions. The next year we were never invited back to Sangudo. I couldn't imagine now that I am a parent booing the opposing team and taunting them the way we had been. Thanks to my Mom I know better, and I will teach my kids the importance of good sportsmanship. It doesn't matter if you win or lose as long as you try.

Thanks Mom, Thanks Coach!!

My Mom, Darcy Lockhart, me and my nephew Damien Lockhart-Rydvall

Have a great week!!

- Chris

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blog #11: Bucket Talk

Blog #11: Bucket Talk
The following is my Bucket List of things I want to do before I die, or rather 'kick the bucket'.
#1: Travel Europe
I want to travel Europe and visit the home nations of my ancestors. My Great-Granny Lockhart came from Scotland and I believe we still have relatives over there and I would love to meet them. My Great-Grandpa Lockhart came from England and I'd love to look up any family there. On my Mom's side we have relatives there too that I would love to visit. Plus we have former exchange students who come from Germany and Finland that I would like to see again. I visited Germany in 2001 and would love to go back. Finally of course I have to visit my sister and her wonderful Swedish family in Sweden.

#2: Throw a shopping cart
I've always wanted to throw a shopping cart at someone, that's something I really want to do. Have you ever spent an evening getting drunk at a bar then stop by the 24 hour IGA for munchies before going home to throw up? Well I have and I've not been the only drunk to do so. Some guys who come stumbling into IGA at the late hour are just complete assholes. I've often felt that I might have to defend myself against a group of thugs at some point in my life and it might just be at a grocery store. What better weapen to use to defend yourself and your friends than a grocery cart. Most people do not see it as a weapon but it really would bring a world of hurt if hurled at someone. I'm not talking simply picking it up and tossing it, that would just be silly. No I'm talking about grabbing it by the handle, and spinning myself while lifting it in the air and letting it go at its target. The act of spinning creates velocity and thus makes it a more powerful weapon to use. Its like throwing a discus in track and field, you need to spin it to make it go further. I want to try it one day, hopefully while I'm heroically defending some kids or a damsel in distress. Otherwise if I did hurl a shopping cart for no good reason it might seem weird.

#3: Find the Ark of the Covenant
I have always been a fan of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and have been fascinated with Ark lore. I've never actually read the bible so all my knowledge of the Ark of the covenant comes from articles I've read and documentaries I've watched. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about I'll explain it simply: Moses climbed mount Sinai and had a vision of God where God revealed his Ten commandments and Moses copied them down on stone tablets. God also commanded Moses to have a sacred container constructed to store the Ten commandments, and that is the Ark of the covenant. The covenant is made of gold and is pictured below.

The Ark was a sacred object and worshipped around the ancient world. Apparently God stated to Moses that once the ark is built the stone tablets of the Ten commandments are to be placed inside and never opened again. The Ark is said to have great mystical powers. Armies marched with the Ark in front of their armies and those armies almost always were victorious. The Ark could never be touched by man because apparently when people have tried to touch it they were struck down dead. The Ark was carried by two poles that were inserted on either side of the Ark. Over the years the Ark was lost and never recovered. Some say its in Egypt, some say Africa, some say its even in the UK, brought there during the Crusades.

I'm just fascinated by the Ark. It was an object that was worshipped and sought after in the ancient world. To find it would confirm what the Bible says about it is true. Thousands of others have searched for it over the centuries but where they have failed maybe I will be successful, or not but at least I'll have tried. It's one of those goals I'll only be able to attempt after winning or inheriting a large sum of money, because it will take alot of money to do.

I met this female Green Lantern at the Edmonton Comic Show. Just thought I would add this to the blog for no particular reason...

#4: Create an epic science fiction series for television
I've always wanted to create a science fiction series. I love to watch science fiction and I have come up with a great concept for a show. It takes place in the 25th century and primarily takes place in space and is a show about friendship, war and betrayal. I would focus on the human drama rather than the special effects. I've mapped out the entire story for the series and who the characters are and what happens to each of them throughout the show. One day I hope to complete my proposal and submit it to television executives.

#5: See AC/DC live in Australia, and visit New Zealand while I'm down there
My favorite band in the world is AC/DC and I would love to see them live in their home nation. Plus I am a huge fan of "The Lord of The Rings" trilogy and fell in love with the scenery and I want to go to where it was filmed which was New Zealand. The people there seem real nice and I'm sure it would be a great place to visit.

#6: Visit Egypt and see the pyramids & sphinx
Crystal really wants to visit Egypt one day and so do I. I really want to see the pyramids and the sphinx. It amazes that an ancient civilization could construct such wonders without the benefit of modern technology. They did construct them with forced slave labour but it still is amazing they were constructed so long ago even if it was done in a terrible way.

#7: Go to Vatican City and meet the Pope
I was baptised a catholic when I was a baby. It was very important for my Great-Granny Lockhart that I be baptised to the catholic religion and so I was. But I'll be honest: I've never gone to Sunday church or read the bible. I believe there is a God but I also believe in science and I think that theres room to believe in both. I have always been fascinated with the Pope and the smallest country in the world, Vatican city. I'm not interested in going to a local church to learn about God, I want to go to the source. The Pope is the head of the Catholic church and I would like to meet the leader of my religion. Hear what he says about God and the world first hand. The power of the church and the history of the Pope and Vatican city amazes me.

#8: Travel into outer space with the Russians or with Richard Branson
Apparently the Russian cosmonauts will take passengers into space for a hefty price. I think that for between $250,000 and 500,000 you can book a seat with them and voyage to outer space on one of their missions. I would have to lose some weight, train up and pass all their medical requirements to go. This is one of those goals that I would need to win the lottery to achieve, and it would have to be a bigger lotto win to do it. If I won over 5 million from playing the lottery I would invest in a trip to outer space. Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to travel into space, and if I can hitch a ride with the Russians to do it then so be it. "Virgin Group" billionaire Richard Branson is apparently developing a fleet of space ships to take tourists into space, maybe by the time I win the lotto his fleet will be taking people into space. I think the price tag is similar to the Russians but I'm not sure. Traveling with the Russians, depending on the mission I could be spending weeks or months at the International space station, which would be awesome where as Branson's flights into space would be a quicker round trip.

#9: Learn to play the bag pipes and the fiddle
I love the bag pipes especially when "Amazing Grace" is played on them. I want that played at my funeral for sure. Plus I'm part Scottish so the bag pipes are part of cultural heritage. My Grandpa Leonard played the fiddle most of his life and I would love to learn how to play to continue the family tradition. I miss my Grandpa especially those times sitting there listening to him play the fiddle.

#10: Lose weight
I'm a lazy guy, I admit it. But I need to lose weight and better my physical health. I do ride the exercise bike, when I remember that is....anyway I've already cut alot of the bad food out of my life. I'm drinking more water, less pop. I cut back on drinking booze too, which has tons of calories. I'll never be a skinny guy, I'm built like a football player, but If I can lose at least 40 pounds I would be alot healthier. I'm going to do this !!!!

#11: Build my dream home
Now this goal can either happen when I win the lotto or when I'm older and the kids are moved out. Right now raising 3 kids makes the budget too tight to build a house on but one day I will. I want a big house with a garage and a basement I can convert into a rec room. I want a pool table with a purple rag, big screen TV, Foosball table and an arcade style "Galaga" game for my rec room. Plus I've always wanted my own bathroom so I can take care of business in peace. The rest of the house is Crystals to design.

#12: Win the Lotto
I've been playing every draw for the Lotto649 and Super7 (now LottoMax) for eight years. I've been playing the same numbers for all that time. I've won a few times along the way, the most being $156. But I remain vigilant with playing my numbers, one day I will win, one day hopefully when I'm still young to enjoy it. I don't smoke and barely ever drink so buying my lotto tickets is my "bad" habit. A bad habit that could pay big one day....

#13: Own and operate a business
I've always wanted to be a business owner. I would love to own a gas station and convenience store. I used to love working at Swan Hills Gasland when I was in grade 11 and you get to meet a lot of interesting people. Or I would love to own a night club, that would be fun too. Barrhead needs a cool night spot cause since the Barrhead Inn tavern closed theres nothing cool here anymore. Or if I win the lotto I'd love to buy the in-town golf course here in Barrhead.
Chris and several members of the 501st

#14: Go to an NFL and MLB game: New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox
I'm a huge fan of the CFL, not so much the NFL but I'd love to watch a NFL game and get caught up on the NFL hype. I've always wanted to visit Boston so seeing the Patriots and BoSox just make sense. I'm not a 'fan' of either team but they are two teams that interest me. I'd love to watch a Blue Jays game too but they don't have the same history that the BoSox and Fenway Park have. If I did see the Jays I could go to Buffalo and watch a Bills NFL game. Rumour has been for a while that the Buffalo Bills may one day relocate to Toronto and that would be awesome. I'd definitely watch the NFL more if there was a Canadian team in it.

#15: Travel across Canada
My Granny Lockhart promised me when I was a kid that we would travel across Canada. We never did but I would still like to do that. We live in the best country in the world and I would love to see it before I die.

#16: Go on a cruise to Antarctica
Antarctica is the continent that probably most intrigues me . Its cold, its the home of cute penguins and it is at the bottom of the world. There are cruises that travel there and I would love to be on one one day.

#17: Learn to ride a horse
Two of my heroes have ridden horses, Grandpa Leonard and Indiana Jones. I've always wanted to learn but I don't know anyone with horses that could teach me, Grandpa sold his horses before I could learn. But I have to learn one day, especially if I'm going after the Ark of the Covenant.

#18: Run for public office and be an honest politician
Let me share with you a scenario: A small Alberta town "twins" with a town in Mexico. Twinning with international towns is a means of increasing awareness about other cultures and blah blah blah. The town council of the small Alberta town travels to Mexico for 2 weeks. They spend one afternoon at the said Mexican town but where did they spend the rest of the 2 weeks? They were kicking it up at a 5 star Mexican resort payed for by the taxpayers of their small town. Then next June the property owners of the small town were shocked to learn their property taxes had increased by almost $200 from last year. Excuse my language but WHAT THE F^*K??? Who's paying my way to a 5 star Mexican resort? A prime example why politicians are labeled as crooks, because they often are. I want to one day run for local politics and bring honesty and integrity to local politics. I'm sick and tired of all the bullshit. Maybe after being in local politics I would move on to provincial or federal politics. Vote for me and I'll attempt to bring an end to all the bullshit.

#19: Become a published writer/write a novel
I would really love to write a science fiction novel and a  super hero comic book. 

#20: Five people I have to meet
There are 5 celebrities I want to meet before I die or before they die:

1: William Shatner. I can actually scratch this celeb off my list as I got to meet him last summer at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo. It was a great moment for me. William Shatner was awesome at his panel and he came out on stage with a arm full of hot women in the green Orion slave girl make-up, very cool. R2D2 presented the Shat with a white cowboy hat from the Mayor of Calgary. Apparently the white hat ceremony is a big thing in Calgary. A guy behind me said "That's not right. R2D2 should not be giving him the hat. The mixing of universes is not right!"...wow, and I thought I was a nerd... Shat was great on stage and announced a special documentary series he has done interviewing all the Captains of the Star Trek series which I did watch and it was a great documentary. The line up for the pic was crazy busy, and when we got to get our pic with him I didn't get to ask him anything.There was a little boy who got his pic before us and after the pic the boy didn't know where his dad was and Shat said to me "Who does he belong to?" referring to the kid. That was it. It was very much get in and get out or get tossed by security. Shat just wanted it to be over, you could tell he had had enough at that point. Still very cool to be standing next to him!! The guy is 80 years old and the fact he still does so much is amazing to me.

2: George Lucas. He created the 2 of the greatest movie series of all time: "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" and also personally designed the great Princess Leia gold bikini. He has changed the face of movies and has lived a very interesting life. He seems like a cool guy and I would like to tour his famous "Skywalker Ranch".

3: Seth MacFarlane creator of "Family Guy". He seems like a real down to earth kind of guy and I think he would be a blast to hang out with, especially if he does his famous "Family Guy" voices.

4: Natalie Portman. She is my number one celebrity crush and I would love to meet her. I am a married man so I would never cheat on my wife, (not that I would ever have a chance with Natalie) but getting to meet her would still be awesome!  
5: JJ Abrams. Creator of TV shows such as 'Lost', 'Alias', 'Fringe', 'Person Of Interest', and the director of the new 'Star Trek' films. I have a lot of ideas I would love to share with him. He is both a TV and movie making icon.
Anywho that's all folks. Ttyl
- Chris

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Random Nerdness: Blog #10: My Take On Star Trek, Part II

Random Nerdness: Blog #10: My Take On Star Trek, Part II: Blog #10: My Take On Star Trek, Part II Hey there loyal reader this is Chris bringing you the second part of 'My Take On Star Trek Essay'....

Blog #10: My Take On Star Trek, Part II

Blog #10: My Take On Star Trek, Part II
Hey there loyal reader this is Chris bringing you the second part of 'My Take On Star Trek Essay'. There is so much ground to cover I have decided to break down the essay into parts, this one focusing on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The first time I saw Star Trek, it was the original series and I was just a little kid, maybe 2 or 3. I remember my Dad watching the original series Saturday afternoons on CBC. I was immediately hooked and since then have been a life long fan of the franchise. I would consider myself a 'Trekker' and I am very knowledgeable about most things Trek. However I am also a very critical fan of the franchise as well. I'm often asked by people which series are best, what movies are good, etc. So I have decided here and now to break down the franchise and offer my opinions of each series and movie of the fabled Trek universe.

Chris & Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker)

Star Trek: The Next Generation:
I didn't watch TNG until it was in it's third season. At first I was a little critical of this new series. Captain Kirk was my Captain, his crew was the only crew I wanted to see. Being a 7 year old kid I just didn't understand why they couldn't do a new TV series with the original cast. Also at that time my family lived in an area where TNG was not available on the air waves. But when we moved to our acreage in 1989 I was able to start watching TNG, now in it's third season, for the first time. I soon forgot my misgivings of them not using the original cast and quickly embraced this new cast of intergalactic travellers.
It was easy for me to get hooked into this series having watched it for the first time in it's third season, because in retrospect it was probably the series best season. Some of the finest episodes ever made in Star Trek can be found in the 3rd season of TNG. I'll break down each individual season and give you my take on each:
Season 1: Is probably the worst season this series did. it had many bad episodes and had this show not been on syndication it probably would have been cancelled. It definitely would have been cancelled by today's TV standards. Gene Roddenberry was tapped to re-create the magic that is Star Trek. Problem is although Roddenberry created the original series he was not the one who made it what it was. In fact in this writers opinion Roddenberry penned some of the worst Trek stories ever done. The pilot episode 'Encounter At Farpoint' , written by Roddenberry is the worst Trek pilot ever made. The only shining light in that pilot episode was John De'Lancie as the god-like 'Q', which was really a rip-off of the original series character 'Trelane' from the TOS episode 'The Squire Of Gothos'. Also Roddenberry ripped-off his own character ideas from 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture', as the characters of Riker and Troi were almost exactly like Decker and Ilia from the film. The entire first season was filled with bad scripts, bad special effects, bad sets. The only thing that saved this show, beside it being in syndication, was the actors and make-up artists. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Levar Burton, Brent Spiner and the rest of the cast by the end of the season had stepped into their roles and were starting to work well together. However the death of Denise Crosby's character 'Tasha Yar' in no way affected the series in my opinion. She added nothing to the show and her death made way for Worf to step up and Michael Dorn too. Before that Dorn/Worf was just a background character.
Season 2: This season was a little better than the first. actually it was a lot better in many ways. Levar Burton's character was promoted from being ship navigator to being Chief Engineer, a very important position in the original series made famous by Scotty. Why Roddenberry didn't have a member of the main cast be the chief engineer in the first season is very odd to me. But things got set right when Geordi was made the Chief Engineer. Doctor Crusher, played by Gates McFadden was replaced in season 2 by Dr Pulaski played by Dianne Mulder. She was an older woman set in her ways much like Dr. McCoy from the original series. Again it appeared as though Roddenberry didn't have an original idea to use in TNG. Despite her crankiness and her constant putting down of 'Data', I actually liked the Dr Pulaski character and I know I probably am the only one who does like that character. Season 2 also saw Whoopi Goldberg join the cast as a regular guest star as the '10 Forward' bartender 'Guinan'. This was an original idea I liked. Goldberg is a very funny lady and I loved seeing her in every episode she did on the series. Season 2 had some high points like seeing the 'Romulans' appear and the introduction of the Borg. Season 2 had the weakest finales ever in television as it was essentially a 'flashback' episode from Rikers perspective. Season 2 was better, the characters started falling into place as far as the roles they would be playing. But they were still in the shadow of the original series at this point, but they would come into their own in season 3...
Season 3:  This is perhaps in my opinion the best season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This was the season when they came out of the shadow of the Original series and became their own Trek. i think this was in huge part due to behind the scenes creative changes. Roddenberry  stepped back due to health issues and Rick Berman took over. He brought on board the creative talents of Micheal Piller and Ron Moore, who would later go on the produce the 'new' Battlestar Galactica. Season 3 saw the beginning of the 'cold war' between the Federation and the Romulan Empire. The Romulans were present in 3 of the seasons best episodes, 'The Enemy', 'The Defector' and 'Tin Man'. They introduced new costumes and fixed up the set in certain areas to make the show look a little better. Season 3 saw the return of  Dr Beverly Crusher and the apparent departure of Dr Pulaski. apparently the producers and actress Diane Mulder were not happy with the character and what she added to the second season so Dr Crusher was brought back. Season 3 also saw the return of Lt Tasha Yar in the brilliant episode 'Yesterdays Enterprise' which saw an alternate time line form after the Enterprise-C travels 22 years into the present future. 'Yesterdays Enterprise' is without a doubt one of the best Trek franchise episodes of all time. Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg in particular were amazing in that episode. TNG made a direct connection with the original series when Spock's father, Ambassador Sarek, made a great guest appearance in the episode 'Sarek'. Data created a 'daughter' android in a very moving episode 'The Offspring'. Finally Wesley Crusher was made a full Ensign. Despite most fans misgivings with the character of Wesley Crusher, I really liked him. I was just a 10 year old kid watching the 3rd season and I really could identify with the character of Wesley Crusher. This season we also got to see for the first time the Klingon home world and the inner workings of the Klingon High Council, and we discover that Worf has a brother in Commander Kern (played by Tony Todd). Now finally we get to the high point of this season, perhaps the best episode of Star Trek ever produced: Best Of Both Worlds Part I. The seemingly invincible Borg have sent a cube/ship to Federation space to 'assimilate' the Federations people and technology, to make them part of their 'Collective'. The season ends with an epic confrontation between the Enterprise and the Borg with Picard being captured and 'assimilated' becoming the voice for the Borg, also known as 'Locutus'. The season ends with Commander Riker ordering the Enterprise to fire on the Borg ship which will seemingly both destroy the Borg and the Enterprise too... BEST CLIFFHANGER EVER!!!  Picard is now a villain, Riker has to destroy his friend and Captain... very cool shit. this marked the first Trek cliffhanger as part 2 would not air until later that year in the fall as the first episode of the 4th season. It made for a very long summer...
Season 4:  After a long summers wait we finally got to see the fall out in part 2 of 'Best Of Both Worlds'. Or should I say lack of fallout. don't get me wrong I liked part 2 but everything wrapped up too soon and there was little change following the end of the season premiere. Riker was promoted to Captain of the Enterprise for 40 minutes but had to step down when they rescued Picard.  The events of Wolf 359 would have lasting effects in the Trek universe but the whole Borg invasion was wrapped up too soon and too easily. TNG never really attempted to create long lasting significant story arcs, like they did on DS9, and the Borg invasion should have stretched out for several episodes instead of wrapping up in just one episode. But that being said season 4 was still a great season. Not much changed this season except for the fact that Wil Wheaton left the series, Wesley Crusher finally got to go to Starfleet Academy.  they did some good episodes this season too, and the Romulan cold war continued to build leading into the season finale where Worf resigned his Starfleet Commission to fight in the Klingon Civil War, which was being engineered by the Duras family with help from the romulans. But the shocking conclusion to the season was the reveal that the Romulan causing all the trouble was the daughter of Tasha Yar, Commander Sela, who was the product of the alternate time line Tasha from the 3rd season episode 'Yesterdays Enterprise'. Sela too was portrayed by Denise Crosby. I had heard the reason she left the show initially in the 1st season was to pursue a film career, which it seems didn't work out so well for her. Maybe that's why she kept returning to the show despite her character being dead.  The focus on season 4 was 'Family' and we got to meet several members of the enterprise crew's family, including Worf's son Alexander. It is amazing how Klingons, who are partly human, can age so fast! Alexander would have been born during the 3rd season yet at the beginning of the 4th season he appears to be a 4-5 year old child. Maybe they age in dog years? TNG also surpassed the original series this season by reaching episode 80, TOS only made 79 episodes. Both Jonathan Frakes and Patrick Stewart got to direct episodes this season, with Frakes directing one of the best TNG episodes 'The Drumhead'.
Season 5:  Again TNG wrapped up the Klingon Civil War story quickly in the season premiere. It would have been cool to see this be an extended multi-episode storyline too. This was a great season again with several memorable episodes including the 2 part episode 'Unification', which featured the return and death of Sarek and the guest appearance of Leonard Nimoy as 'Ambassador Spock'. The Unification 2-parter seemed to mark the end to the Romulan Cold war story thread. Michelle Forbes joined the series as 'Ensign Ro' for several episodes. The season ends with another cliffhanger featuring TNG's first time travel story. Behind the scenes TNG creator Gene Roddenberry passed away. Despite my criticism of Roddenberry he did create this franchise and without him there may have never been anything like this on Television. The loss of Roddenberry was a very sad time indeed and he will never be forgotten.
Season 6:  This was another solid season. Star Trek: Deep Space 9 launched mid-season and TNG viewers saw guest star Colm Meaney (Transporter Chief O'Brien) and his family transfer to DS9. Season 6 also marked the end of Whoopi Goldberg's tenure on the TNG series. She only appeared on 3 episodes and never returned. Her character made no official exit and I to this day I am not sure why she never returned to TNG in season 7. TNG needed a shake-up and they got it in the great 2 part episode 'Chain Of Command' with Picard being transferred and Ronny cox coming on board as 'Captain Edward Jellico'. Jellico was a very strict commanding officer who was hard to please and this created great drama for the actors, especially Rikers epic confrontation with Jellico. Also in that 2 parter Picard was captured by Cardassians and actor Patrick Stewart got to play one of his best performances as Picard. Also James Doohan from the original series returned as 'Scotty' in the great episode 'Relics'. Despite having such a great season it ended with TNG's worst cliffhanger episode, 'Descent' which featured the lame return of the Borg and Data's evil brother 'Lore'. It would prove to be a preview of things to come in season 7...
Season 7: Aside from season 1 and 2, season 7 proved to be one of the worst in TNG. There were not many good episodes this season and sadly it would be their last as TNG was being groomed for the silver screen and 'Star Trek: Voyager' was being prepped for launch on the upcoming 'UPN' network. TNG just suffered extremely creatively this season. I'm not sure if the fact that DS9 was running and Voyager was being prepped that TNG didn't receive the creative attention it needed. There were more bad episodes than good ones, and many plotlines that had been building for several seasons were not resolved by the end of the show. The series finale 'All Good Things' proved to be a terrible send off for the TNG series as the events in that episode didn't really happen. TNG should have gone out in a blaze of glory, but it didn't.
The Next Generation SHOULD have stayed on the air for at least an 8th season:
Paramount signed a deal with its stars for an 8th season. Patrick Stewart (Picard) and Brent Spiner (Data) reluctantly agreed to an 8th season but no more. Paramount was apparently even considering bringing in other actors to replace Picard and Data for a 9th season. Ronny Cox who had played "Captain Edward Jellico" who took command of the Enterprise for 2 episodes would replace Picard and Elizabeth Dennehy as "Commander Shelby" would replace Data. It would have been interesting and an 8th season should have happened because the 7th season sucked, ending the show on a sour note because of it. Unfortunately it was business that destroyed the proposed 8th season. Paramount was set to launch their UPN television network and they wanted Star Trek to be its primary show, this new network was set to launch in January 1995. Problem was Paramount was already producing Star Trek: TNG and Deep Space Nine for syndication and couldn't put one of them on their network because of all the syndication deals they had in place. So the decision was made to end TNG at the end of season 7 and create a new Star Trek series for the UPN network. TNG ended in May 1994 with a lousy final season and final episode and the worst Star Trek series ever created was launched in January 1995: Star Trek Voyager. I'm sure if the Paramount executives could have foreseen the end of UPN in 2006 and the poor ratings and reviews for "Voyager" they would have stayed with TNG for at least one more season.
Despite all the growing pains TNG had, it still is tied with DS9 as being my favourite Trek series. Besides certain creative people holding the show back, I think what held TNG back was that it was limited by the era in which it was created. TNG was the first series in modern television that tried to do the things it did, but it was held back by the limitations of the time. Special effects were very costly and time consuming to produce which is why there were very few big battle scenes and the TNG crew often talked their way out of battles or just missed them (Wolf 359). Cheaper computer generated special effects really did not become the standard until the 4th season of DS9, 1995 or so. But I feel these limitations just made the writers work hard and thus TNG has several of the best Trek franchise episodes. TNG is a great series and is worth watching, but beware of seasons 1, 2 and 7 which are the worst of the series.
Chris & Son Bailey with Levar Burton (Geordi LaForge)
Well that concludes my discussion on the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series. As I said earlier this is just the second part of my take on Trek with more to come in future blog posts. They break down as follows:
Part I: Star Trek The Original Series
Part II: Star Trek The Next Generation
Part III: The Star Trek Movies
Part IV: Star Trek Deep Space Nine
Part V: Star Trek Voyager & Enterprise
Part VI: The Future Of Star Trek
And that is a wrap for me. Take care and see you in the future!
Thanks again for reading.