Nov 7, 2011

Geek and geek! What is geek?

Jolan Tru, and welcome aboard the Bitter Trolley. Since I’ve collected your tickets and everyone is comfy, let’s get the Bitter Trolley underway.

It’s been almost two months exactly since the Bitter Trolley took its last run, and in that time there’s been a lot I have wanted to comment on, but just have not had the spark, the gusto, if you will, to actually put pen to paper (AHHHAHAHAHAHA I’m so old!) and share my nonsense with the world. Today I read a wonderful post from my Twitter and STLV friend @ernie_five, Geek Closet: From Squalor to Spaceship: Wherein I question my status as a geek, and he’s inspired me to share something I have been thinking about.

I have proclaimed my geekdom to the world, and am proud of it. I said it before and will say it again: I like who I am, I am so happy with the people I associate with in my geek life, and, while my coming out of the geek closet cost me in some major ways, I know “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

But I have been doing some geek self-appraisal lately and asking myself just what kind of geek I am, and how deep does it run for me? Maybe some of you riding the Bitter Trolley are rolling your eyes or shaking your head, but hey, these are the thoughts I have.  So how do they relate to Ernie’s blog and the spark he gave me?

Well, Ernie says, “Inside the subway train, and in borderline crisis mode, I seriously doubted my geek credentials: I don't go out to see all of the latest comic book movies, I'm not familiar with names of the recent major scribes and artists, don't recognize anime characters, and, if I were pressed, I couldn't spout out credible Treknobabble if universes were in jeopardy.”

(SQUIRREL! I love the word “Treknobabble” he uses there, and indeed, I am replacing “technobabble” with it from now one. Thanks Ernie!)

There is so much there I recognized right away. While I have seen the Iron Man films, Thor and Captain America, and am waiting for The Avengers, I see few comic book films.  When I look at sites like or, I rarely recognize names of sci-fi or horror authors, and to be honest, my geek reading is mainly in the Trek lit universe. I couldn’t tell you the names of any anime characters – except the crew from Star Blazers – and honestly, have only played one MMO or MMORPG, Star Trek Online. Even that is being tested because of all the changes and destruction of the Star Trek universe going on, but that is a whole other rant.  (For an excellent read on what is going on with STO, read These Bootz Were Made for Bloggin' by TerilynnS

But here is what I am a geek about:

(Ok, I am co-host and host of the last two, but damn it I am working in a cheap plug where I can!)

That’s just a few things. So does the fact that I am only geeked about a small amount of Geekdom lesson my geek cred? Maybe. It always strikes me as funny when fellow geeks are stunned I have not watched and love (insert show here), but they have never seen something I love and go on about.

But here is where the family bond is strong: we tell the other what it is we love and maybe even get the other interested in watching or reading it, and then compare thoughts. Rarely is it lacking civility and humor, and even if we don’t agree we can still find things we can nitpick together.

So while I share Ernie’s angst about my geek credentials, I realize that it’s ok to not have to love everything geek. We all have our niche and what makes the community special is, THAT’S OK.

So Ernie, and any other geeks who have been navel gazing recently, I guess what this is all about is just one geek saying to another, it’s ok. Love what you love and love it with passion. I know the Bitter Trolley will always be glad you are riding with us, and it is that diversity and universe spanning difference among us that makes us all the better.

I hope this hastily written and totally stream of consciousness rambling made any sense to you.

Well, we are approaching the station, as always, thanks for reading. And as always, thanks for riding the Bitter Trolley, and please, remember us for your future travels. Jolan Tru.

Sep 8, 2011

Happy 45th Birthday Star Trek!

Welcome aboard the Bitter Trolley, and since I’ve collected your tickets and everyone is comfy, let’s get the Bitter Trolley underway.

I am sorry it has been so long since the Trolley has been in service. It seems life has a way of moving forward and sometimes I have to force myself to pull the handle overhead and slow down, but here we are again on another ride. So hello! Guten Tag! もし もし! Привет!

Today is Sept. 8, 2011 – it is also the 45th anniversary of the airing of the first Star Trek episode, “The Man Trap.” That day in 1966 changed not only televised sci-fi, but was the start of not only what is now known as a classic TV show, inspiring five other series bearing the name “Star Trek” and 11 feature films, as well as countless novels, fan written stories and productions, video games, etc.

It’s funny, Trekkies are such an easy target for people to make fun of, but I have to say, I am so proud to be one. We all share a love of the series, and I dare say no other television series has engendered that kind of love.

I had the great fortune and honor of attending the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention, and it was such an amazing experience being with 15,000 others and we all share the same passion. I said to my dear friend and G and T Show co-host Teri (and he wonderful husband Allen, a new BFF J ) that for all the acclaim and media talk when ER was a huge hit, or the West Wing, I don’t see conventions for those shows bringing people from around the world.

Why does Star Trek have such longevity and inspire such devotion? I am no PhD, but I think it’s simple. Good stories. It is just that simple. Yes, there are moral and social messages throughout Trek, it’s a staple of the show, but if the writing sucked (and let’s not kid ourselves fellow Trekkies, there have been some stinkers that make Steve Martin’s rebooted Pink Panther look like Raging Bull) the show would not have captured our imagination.

As a fan I have met so many amazing people, and if I started to name them I know two things:

1 – I could go on forever talking about my friends and how much they mean to me, and:

2 – I know I would leave someone out unintentionally and then feel like a Ceti Alpha eel, so I won’t do that.

Instead I will thank all the writers who got behind a typewriter/keyboard, all the interns and those who worked on a set, in the art and production departments, the actors, the unsung PAs...and most importantly, the late Gene Roddenberry for the journey they took us on.

Ok, I am going to break the vow I made in the paragraph above and give a distinct shout out. If there was no Star Trek, then there would not be a G and T Show, and I would not have the absolute pleasure of knowing my co-host Teri. So yeah, I am calling one person out, but I think you understand.

This Bitter Trolley ride is a short one, but I just wanted to say hello, and wish Star Trek a happy 45th birthday. I hope you all LLAP!

A reminder and shameless plug: if you haven’t tuned in during the live broadcast of The G and T Show on Sunday mornings (and because I am a shameless plug whore, that’s at 9 a.m. EST/6 a.m. PST/1400 GMT) – well, what are you waiting for?  You can find it at:

You can also hear our older shows at: and also find our link to our iTunes archive.

Well, we are approaching the station, as always, thanks for reading. And as always, thanks for riding the Bitter Trolley, and please, remember us for your future travels. Jolan Tru.

Jun 30, 2011

My Geek Life, It Just Gets Better

Welcome aboard the Bitter Trolley, and since I’ve collected your tickets and everyone is comfy, let’s get the Bitter Trolley underway.

Jolan Tru Trolley Riders! It has been a hectic and sometimes frustrating last few weeks, and about to get even busier! But want to know something? I wouldn’t want my life to go any way but where it has been headed at the moment.

Let me start with a shameless plug: if you haven’t tuned in during the live broadcast of The G and T Show on Sunday mornings (and because I am a shameless plug whore, that’s at 9 a.m. EST/6 a.m. PST/1400 GMT) – well, what are you waiting for?  You can find it at:

Terilynn and I have had some really spirited discussions, and even when we are agreeing with one another we know the people in the chat room will have points of view to get us fired up! And for those who have been tuning in, I cannot thank you near enough. We love doing the show, but knowing there are so many that have made it “appointment listening” – I just cannot find the words to express my thanks.

A final quick aside about The G and T Show (and you can follow us on Twitter: @SundayGandT and find us on Facebook: Sunday G and T Show) – I am truly blessed to have a lady who not only is one of the most fun people I have known, but her sense of humor, her incredible knowledge on so many things and her willingness to speak up about her convictions on topics as varied as the rainbow, make her the perfect foil to my idiocy.

Yes, I love Teri to the end of time, and just wanted to say publicly: Thank you for being in my life and making me work harder in the pursuit of my passions. You are the best. *Hugglez*

It has also been a productive time for me in my fanfic writing (and once again, thanks to Teri for kicking me in the fourth point of contact and encouraging me and spurring me on). I have had a few short stories put up on the Star Trek Online forums, and actually sat down and started writing the grand Star Trek opus I have wanted to write for years. It is so frustrating, but also a great feeling of accomplishment when I get through another section of the book. I just need to make myself sit down and actually write a whole lot more.

Speaking of Star Trek Online (STO in shorthand for those who don’t play), my journey with the Caspian Division continues, and one thing that always makes me laugh out loud is the irreverence of this group. We can be in the middle of a brutal and overwhelming battle with the Borg, but turn around and sure enough a fleet member is dancing on a platform or in the middle of a firefight. I love it. The open willingness of the core fleet members to share tips and help others improve their characters is always something that has me shaking my head in sincere admiration for the quality of people we have. It is a joy to know these people. Oh, and the conversations going on in Vent as we are fighting to save the universe….we really could have our own reality show.

On a non-Trek note, I have really been enjoying the Syfy airing of Star Blazers. I’ll have more to say about that later.

If you enjoy Trek fan productions, I implore you to watch Star Trek: Reunion, and marvel at the hard work, dedication and sheer joy the creators put into it. Star Trek: Reunion is a fan-made Star Trek Online machinima (look it up because I’m not explain it) that you have to see to believe. You can view the first episode, "The Gathering Storm," at:

Major props, kudos and a heartfelt, “HUZZAH!” to Oliver V. Smith and so many others for this gem of Trek fanfic. Amazing job to all of you.

Before we reach our final destination, let me say how utterly and completely excited I am that a week from now I will be in Baltimore for Shore Leave 33. I am looking forward to seeing some old friends, and meeting others I have talked to online in person for the first time. I’ll be broadcasting The G and T Show live from the convention, and several Trek authors have already agreed to appear, either live, or sit down to tape an interview for later airing. How frakking cool is that? I mean really!!!!!

I will blog from Shore Leave, so I hope you check in for that.

Then, a month later, I am….*taking a deep breath to calm down*…GOING TO VEGAS BABY! Going for Star Trek Las Vegas Convention!!!

Am I excited?


Are Vulcan women just too damn sexy???

And again, Teri and I will do a live show from the Rio in Vegas. That’s 6 a.m. in Vegas, so if you want to hear two very tired; possibly still drinking Trek fans on the air, that’ll be the show for you.

I cannot tell you how wonderful my life has been on a personal level since I met so many of you, since I decided to accept my geek. I am in your debt for the kindness, love and support you show daily. So many of you mean so much to me.

A final note: T’Pring – I miss you. A lot.

Well, we are approaching the station, as always, thanks for reading. And as always, thanks for riding the Bitter Trolley, and please, remember us for your future travels. Jolan Tru.

Jun 10, 2011

The G&T Show - Trek lit on the air!

Welcome aboard the Bitter Trolley, and since I’ve collected your tickets and everyone is comfy, let’s get the Bitter Trolley underway.

"G&T Press Release

Trek Lit and Sci-Fi Fans…Exciting News!

Cerberus Films, the studio responsible for the upcoming “Star Trek: Reunion,” proudly announced today a fun new way to begin your Sunday mornings. Start the day with a new internet TV broadcast — The  G&T Show — going live at 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT), Sunday, June 19, 2011, at with a duo that will keep you entertained and wanting more. [Bios and schedule included at end of release.]

Each week, hear the latest Trek Lit and Sci-Fi news and hear interviews with Trek lit and comic book authors. If you are a fan of Star Trek, science fiction and discussions of events around our world, and beyond, tune in for this provocative, entertaining and seat-of-your-pants talk show.

For more information about The G&T show contact: and stay tuned to the twitter accounts of @Cerberusfilms, @TerilynnS and @Gettysburg7 for up to date news on this exciting new show.

Gettysburg7 (Nick Minecci)
Co-host, The G&T Show Nick is a self-described “sci-fi loving geek” and avid fan fiction writer. He has a blog devoted to the joys of Star Trek and the pride of being a geek, , and can be counted on to cite some obscure bit of minutia or make a bizarre film reference at any time. He is also an avid Star Trek Online player, and is known for his deep affection for Commander Christine Vale of the Star Trek novels.

TeriLynnS (Terilynn Shull)
Co-host, The G&T Show  Terry is a general Star Trek Columnist for and contributing Star Trek Online columnist for She also co-hosts the Star Trek Online and Foundry-focused production - PodcastUGC. Terry is an avid hobby and fan fiction author, and an official publication reader. Terry is known around the Star Trek fan community for her love of beards and boots."

It is truly a pleasure to see you again Trolley riders, I have been remiss in my blogging, and hope you aren’t too upset at the delay. But today we are rolling down the tracks again, and I have great news to share. As you can see, I am involved in a new adventure – I am co-host of “The G&T Show” – an internet radio show focusing on the world of Star Trek, with an emphasis on the novels.

My co-host is one of the most wonderful ladies it has been my pleasure to have grace my life, Terri Lynn Shull. Teri and I share a mutual love of Trek lit, and Trek itself, as well as comics and film. We also are as opposite as two people can be when it comes to so many topics I cannot begin to explain, but never once in a debate or conversation with her have I ever ended the day remotely mad or upset with her, and I can dare say, the same is true for her.

That is what makes us teaming for this venture such a great fit, we are alike and different, and we share a mutual love and respect that the audience will hear. So here is where you come in Trolley riders! Tune in! As you listen, play the G&T home game…every time Teri or I snort with laughter, take a drink. Keep a tally of any double entendrie you hear,  see how many obscure film references you can identify!

Join our family and enjoy Sunday mornings with two people who will make you laugh, entertain you, and maybe even bring you some views on Trek lit, Trek in general and sci-fi that you hadn’t thought of. I KNOW that when we have our discussion about the Star Trek – Deep Space Nine finale many of you will be scratching your head and saying, “Oh wow. Hadn’t thought of that!”

Some more good news, we will have the ability to take calls from listeners, interact and really get some good talk going.

I would totally be remiss if I did not thank young Oliver V. Smith, known by those of us on Twitter as @cerberusfilms, without whom this would not be possible. He is not only one of the most mature and dynamic young people I have ever met, but I am convinced he will be a ruler of the entertainment world one day.

So at 9 a.m. EST June 19, boot up, log on, and share breakfast with Teri and me. I think it will be a wonderful Sunday morning addiction for you.

Thanks for reading. And as always, thanks for riding the Bitter Trolley, and please, remember us for your future travels.

Mar 29, 2011

Accepting the geek – Part IV: The queens of geek

Welcome aboard the Bitter Trolley, and since I’ve collected your tickets and everyone is comfy, let’s get the Bitter Trolley underway.

As I mentioned in “Accepting the geek – Part I” - -it was a long trip for me to accept who I am, a geek. I say it proudly, and without reservation, and if anyone has issues with the person I am, then too bad for them. I like the person I have finally discovered I am, and I have made some amazing friends in this process of realization.

That’s what I want to talk about today, some of the people I’ve met as I’ve opened myself to accepting my geek. In particular, the women I have come to know. The geek women.

I will be up front and admit, like many, when I would think of geeks I had the image we’ve been fed by popular media for years, the nerdy, out-of-shape lonely guy living in his parent’s basement. If a woman is portrayed as a geek, she’s either fat or painfully thin, again with the glasses and so shut off from reality it’s scary.

Well guess what. Geek women are some of the smartest, sassiest, most quick-witted and beautiful women in the world. It’s interesting that if I hadn’t relented and finally got a Twitter account, I would never have known about the universe of geek women out there, and my life would be a lot duller than it is now.

One of the things I tell people that ask about Twitter is that with Facebook you can keep in contact with friends in a general way, but with Twitter you can expand your knowledge and meet people for whatever niche you choose. I was so lucky that early on in my Twitter journey I met a really wonderful lady named Terry, and we became friends quickly. Through her I started meeting scores of others who love sci-fi as much as I do, and in many cases more, many of them women. My world became richer and my intellect constantly challenged by these women, and I love that.

These are not the overall wearing types pop culture purveyors like to present (yeah, I did that on purpose LOL) – not even close. These are professional, educated and very intelligent women (and intelligent is so sexy) who can discuss how women are portrayed in sci-fi, then switch to nitpicks of episodes and explain the science of their argument then discuss their gaming adventures in the blink of an eye. Then say, “Sorry, gotta go, about to go for a 10-mile mountain bike ride.”

As I stated in an earlier ride on the Bitter Trolley, I am an avid Star Trek Online player, and the amount of women players astounds me. Sure there are guys that make women characters, but being able to hook into Ventrilo and talk to the other players, there are some stunning ladies (intellectually as well as physically) playing the game.

So what I have to wonder is why do so many of those who decide to present women like this do so? Are they scared of smart women, confident women and women that are not afraid to tell you what they are thinking?

It’s funny, when the amazing Jeri Ryan was cast as Seven of Nine, so many people derided it as a casting stunt, and the joke flew about geeks having their pin up girl. The truth is, if you have ever heard her talk, if you follow her on Twitter or read her writings, Jeri Ryan should be a role model for young women, and the fact she’s drop-dead gorgeous, well, that’s just a bonus for the geeks out here.

I have some coworkers that were discussing MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, but when they heard about a debate I was having with my geek women friends about the Star Trek Deep Space Nine finale “What You leave Behind” – they thought that was so odd. Really?  I still love the episode, but some things were pointed out to me about the ending no man ever had ever said to me. I like that. Oh, but it’s set in space, it must be silly. But real housewives shows aren't. Uh huh.

So who are the queens of geek? It's simple, it's not some actress or writer, it is the everyday woman out there who enjoys the adventure, the learning and the fun of sci-fi/fantasy/gaming. It's the women I am lucky to meet every day.

In the end it all boils down to one thing for me, geek women are the best of us, and I could not be more privileged and proud that I know them, and they accept and love me for who I am.

It is truly the geek man that is lucky, because geek women are more than a pretty face, they have the brains to keep us interested.

If you choose to make fun, to belittle or to tell us, “Get a life!” then you don’t get it. We have one, and it’s damn good.

Thanks for reading. And as always, thanks for riding the Bitter Trolley, and please, remember us for your future travels.

Oh, before you leave the Trolley, check out the following blogs by some wonderful geek women, it's worth the time:

Mar 18, 2011

Accepting the geek – Part III: Trek in print

Welcome aboard the Bitter Trolley, and since I’ve collected your tickets and everyone is comfy, let’s get the Bitter Trolley underway.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it was the discovery of the Gateways series while in Iraq that reignited my geek, so I thought it would be a good time to talk a little Trek lit. I know there is a lot more than just Trek out there for geek reading (and I have to just throw in, The novel "Batman – No Man’s Land" was fantastic), but for my pleasure reading I read Trek. Nothing against other sci-fi series, I just don’t have time.

I liked the Gateways series well enough, but I was lost in some of it because I had never read Trek lit, so Gateways really was a gateway for me.

In order to understand what I was reading I jumped on to start ordering other books, as well as the DVDs of every season of every Trek series. is truly one of my best friends when deployed.
Another major factor in my discovering Trek in print was author and really great guy, David Mack. When I went to and asked on the message board if anyone could help me find the Gateways novels I didn’t have, not only was Dave kind enough to send me the missing ones, but he sent a ton of sci-fi and fantasy novels, helping me build quite the library in our office.

As I was reading the Gateways series I was confused when I read “Cold Wars” by Peter David. I had never heard of Captain Mackenzie Calhoun of the U.S.S. Excalibur or the New Frontier series, so it truly was a “Huh???” moment for me.
Within a month I had ordered all the New Frontier novels and was on my way.
It became a daily ritual that when I left the embassy for my ride to work, then again at dinner, and during down times, I was reading the novels and loving it, now getting deeper into the novel universe and enjoying heading into the unknown.

When I returned to the States my reading slacked off, there was just no time with the daily grind of reintegrating, starting a new job, seeing my children, etc. I would get a book occasionally, but not with the passion I had overseas.

Then I deployed again.

This deployment I took Greg Cox’s two volume “The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh” and “To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh,” and really enjoyed the ride.

I followed that with the TNG series “A Time To” series.
Truthfully, I had started the series in my 2004-2005 deployment, but wasn’t grabbed by it, and then got hooked on New Frontier. When I started reading it again in 2007 it did grab me, and the series got better with each book. When I finished the series it depressed me. It had been a long ride and well worth the trip.

Then it happened.

For Christmas I got some books that not only sucked me in, I read each in about two-three days, and when I was done I was so excited that my roommate, who laughed at my geekdom, was almost tempted to read the books. (He didn’t.)

The event was David Mack’s "Destiny" trilogy.

If you’ve read it, you already know. I really don’t have to say anything.

From the first sentence it pulls you in you and doesn’t let go.

And unlike some reviews I have seen that say Ezri Dax has been “Mary Sued,” I love the new, confident and authoritative Ezri. Sure, she has private doubts, but this is a great direction for the character, who is a Dax after all.

The suspense, action and tragedy in Destiny are thick, and the sheer scope of the trilogy across time and distance is breathtaking. I could gush for days.

I snapped up the post-Destiny novels as soon as they hit the shelves, and there wasn’t a bad book in the bunch. In the course of the last 18 months or so I have become huge fans of Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, Keith R. A. DeCandido and Kirsten Beyer. (More about her in a bit.)  It is not an exaggeration to say if it has their name on it, I am spending the money.

Which leads me to talk about two other print Trek adventures that have me racing at warp 9.9 (hey, not warp 10, then I turn into a salamander and wind up fathering Janeway’s tadpoles!) to the nearest bookseller.

I read the Voyager "Homecoming" novels by Christie Golden and liked them. They gave us the homecoming that we deserved after seven years in the Delta Quadrant and were so cheaply ripped off from getting in the series finale “Endgame.” Ms. Golden did it in a really nice way, and I still recommend these books to people.

But when I read “Star Trek Voyager: Full Circle” and “Star Trek Voyager: Unworthy” by Kirsten Beyer…I literally cheered at one point. THIS is what Voyager should be.
Ms. Beyer made the crew of Voyager alive, she brought them forward in stories where the people mattered, they were a team (and not just a captain, her humanity project and a hologram) and they breathed.
I cannot say enough good about these two books, and I am anxiously awaiting her newest Voyager novel, “Children of the Storm.”

Oh, and for the “I will never buy another Star Trek novel until Janeway is brought back” crowd – it’s your loss. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Finally, I would be not only remiss, but should serve time on Rura Penthe if I don’t discuss the “Star Trek: Vanguard” series.
Vanguard is a TOS-era series set on Starbase 47 *wink* also known as Vanguard, a new station built to support Starfleet operations near an interstellar expanse called The Taurus Reach.

The first novel, “Harbinger,” was written by David Mack, and the cast of characters he and then-editor Marco Palmieri came up with is spectacular. I loved the cameo by Kirk and the Enterprise crew in “Harbinger,” and the little things that Trek fans will agonize over, like the changes in TOS uniforms between "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "The Man Trap" commented on by the characters.

But more importantly, the original characters in the series are tragic, fun, maddening, intense…I could go on. For a really good read about the Vanguard series read: “Star Trek: Vanguard – A Breath of Fresh Trek Air” by a truly wonderful lady, Terry Lynn Shull, at:

One of the really fun things about the Vanguard series is David Mack alternates with Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore in writing the books, and the authors are constantly trying to one-up each other, ending each novel with a cliffhanger so heavy you know they have to be beating their heads against the desk yelling, “You bastard! How am I gonna get this resolved????”

If you are a Trek fan and haven’t read Vanguard, you are truly missing a great experience. 

A final thought about the Trek printed universe. I’ve had the extraordinary luck to get to know some of the authors, emailing, chatting on Twitter and sitting and sharing adult beverages together, and if there is a nicer group of people, I don’t know where they are. I won’t say more about David Mack, I have been told I say too many nice things about him. :-)

But in the last year I have had the real pleasure of getting to know Dayton Ward, and he truly is one of the really fun and good people, and Kevin Dilmore and he make a great Abbott and Costello team when talking to them.

Marco Palmieri blew me away with his sincerity, warmth and genuine interest in what we were discussing. Funny story, I was talking to him about Ms. Beyer’s Voyager novels and gushing about them, he looked at me and pointed to the woman standing next to me and said, “Have you met Kirsten, she wrote those books.”
She was so kind, and she seemed blown away that I was reading her novels in Baghdad.

Finally, I just want to say that when talking to Keith R.A. DeCandido I was just awed by his energy, wit and general niceness.

Maybe part of my love for the Trek novels is that the people who write these adventures are the biggest fans out there, they love the Trek universe and want to take us on a ride that they are enjoying as much as anyone.

Whatever it is, this is a geek who cannot wait for the next installment of our continuing mission they take us on.

Thanks for reading. And as always, thanks for riding the Bitter Trolley, and please, remember us for your future travels.

Mar 10, 2011

Accepting the geek – Part II: The Dividing Line

Welcome aboard the Bitter Trolley, and since I’ve collected your tickets and everyone is comfy, let’s get the BT underway.

Sorry it has been so long since my last post, I had Army Reserve drill last weekend and that tends to eat a lot of time. I know it’s no excuse; there is never a good excuse, only the truth.  And my first duty here is to the truth.

"The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, whether it's scientific truth or historical truth or personal truth! It is the guiding principle on which Starfleet is based! And if you can't find it within yourself to stand up and tell the truth about what happened, you don't deserve to wear that uniform!"

Sorry, I channeled Jean-Luc Picard from one of my top five favorite TNG episodes. It happens.

So, last time we met here in the dining car explained how I came to embrace and accept the geek I am, and that I am not only happy with the person I am, but I have met some truly amazing people who share the same passions and humor.

But there was a polarizing event less than two years ago, and for the geek community there is still a divide that can run deep and sometimes lead to actual yelling. I saw it. When I’ve seen it I have to admit, it’s kind of made me sad to see.

What was the Fort Sumter of Trek? The 2009 release of JJ Abrams “Star Trek.”

Because the story evolves in an alternate timeline from the Kirk, Spock and McCoy we grew up with (Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley), some fans call it nuTrek. Others call is “Abramsverse.” But one thing many agree upon calling it is…well, there are a lot of less than flattering words they use. I am not in that group, and I have taken some heat for it. But let me explain where I’m coming from, and then we can discuss.

I first heard about nuTrek while in Iraq, when I saw the teaser trailer on I was SO excited, the Soldiers I was with can attest that I became obsessed with checking out about the film. See I have bad luck with movies and deployment.

See, “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” both were released while I was in Iraq, so was “Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith.” Ok, so the last one didn’t break me up too much, but still….

Finally after 24 months I was headed home and nuTrek was opening in theaters THE NEXT DAY! I made plans to see it (by myself…my wife has zero interest in sci-fi and made it a point to explain to me how very little she wanted to sit in a theater for a Star Trek movie) and was through the roof.

The movie started. I was not bothered by lens flares. I really liked the look of the film in fact. One of the big things I was worried about was would I be so jet-lagged after flying home 8,000 miles that even if this thing was “The Godfather” in Star Trek form, I’d fall asleep. It was not even close to happening.

After I left the theater I went home, my wife asked how it was. I had to think about it and said the most honest thing I could, “I don’t know.”

See, I liked a lot about the film, truly. There were things I didn’t like. Then there were things I just wish…weren’t. I mean, destroying Vulcan????
(And if that’s a spoiler for you, I am so not saying sorry. It’s been on DVD for how long now?)

But in keeping with IDIC, I accepted the film and was happy it was out. I know that for some, me saying that is like saying to them that Superman is a pussy, and I’d rather have….Aquaman…help me fight crime.

Superman is such a tool...I mean, look at this:

Enough said about that.

But back to the topic: Why? Why the outright open hostility some show towards nuTrek? I get picking the story, or some of the set designs. But we’re talking hard core MSNBC toward Ronald Reagan fans hatred I have seen.

I get it, by rebooting and having beloved, classic characters (and yes, I do have a blog planned how Star Trek is the modern mythology) played by new actors and changing the back-story, it shakes some people’s worlds. I get that. But the thing is – none of it is real anyway, so maybe I am being a heretic saying this, but I am along to enjoy stories that make me think and bring me some escape.

I have talked to people who literally could not say a good thing about nuTrek. That’s silly, and if I may, a tad hardheaded.

Here are five things about nuTrek I enjoyed:

5 – It was a Trek that was filmed for the BIG screen. People can have issues with lens flares and such, but this was a Trek deserving of the theater experience. I mean really, was “Insurrection” anything more than a TNG episode an hour longer?

4 – The music was amazing, and when the classic theme hit at the end (and I loved that, as if the nuCrew had earned it), I got goose bumps.

3 – The “origin” story. Look, maybe it’s not what I would have written, or you. But it IS the story of how the “original” crew met, something fans wanted for years. I admire them for tackling it.

2 - Chris Pine was outstanding in the role of James T. Kirk. He didn’t do a Shatner, he made it his own. Plus, let’s face it, he has the look.

1 – Not only was Capt. Christopher Pike in the film, but Bruce Greenwood owned ever scene he was in. He had a depth and charisma rarely seen in any Trek.

Now, five things I didn’t care for so much:

5 – Scotty as comic relief really bugged me. A lot. I am a Simon Pegg mark, and really felt let down by this characterization.

4 – The engine room. I think that says enough about that.

3 – Nero. That was not the epic villain we needed. We needed a Khan. Hell, I would have settled for a Harry Mudd.

2 – Spock/Uhura romance. Look, I am not opposed to it, it just….came out of nowhere. And if anything in the film deserved at least a sentence of explanation, this was it.

1 – Vulcan destroyed. Vulcan. Destroyed. VULCAN. DESTROYED! No matter how many times I say or write it, I get mad.

So I admit, there’s some big problems with the film. But for long-time Trekkies (or Trekkers, no diff to me) to bash the film is short sighted, and does not take into account something nuTrek opens for us.

The future.

Yeah, ironic huh?

See, we grew up in a world with just TOS (TAS was so no easy to find) and the books. Then there was TNG, changing everything.
Then the flood hit, we had DS9 (the most underappreciated Trek, and the best), Voyager (UGH in so many ways) and Enterprise (sadly, once they got their shit together it was cancelled). We had the TOS films, the TNG films…I think Rick Berman was right, we reached saturation.

Then we had a break and nuTrek came out. And you know what I noticed last year at my visit to Shore Leave? A lot of young people, teens and younger, wearing nuTrek uniforms while talking about the film and excited to learn more about Trek. They are excited about Star Trek! So what if it’s not the Trek we grew up with?

This is THEIRS. THEY are joining the family! Isn’t that a wonderful thing?

Look, I know nuTrek isn’t for everyone, I get it. But we have to look forward to get the next generation (no pun intended) to look back. Isn’t that what it’s about, passing this wonderful gift of Trek on to future generations?

Am I being naive?

I look forward to hearing thoughts on this topic.

Oh, if it is kind of disjointed I apologize, I am medicated at the moment and also working with a really crappy keyboard that has jumped all over the place while typing.

Thanks for reading. And as always, thanks for riding the Bitter Trolley, and please, remember us for your future travels.

Mar 1, 2011

A late night note about Star Trek Online

Welcome aboard the Bitter Trolley, and since I’ve collected your tickets and everyone is comfy, let’s get the BT underway.

I just got done playing the latest weekely episode, this one title "Coliseum," and I just wanted to say to Cryptic - THUMBS UP!

I'll post more later on the game and how it's made my nights better, but these weeklies are getting better and better. Keep up the great work!

The USS Gettysburg, NCC-91863-D on patrol

Thanks for riding the Bitter Trolley, and please, remember us for
your future travels.

Feb 28, 2011

What’s a Bitter Trolley and why am I the conductor?

Welcome aboard the Bitter Trolley, and since I’ve collected your tickets and everyone is comfy, let’s get the BT underway.

“So what is the Bitter Trolley?” you may be asking. (Then again you may not be asking, but I am going to speak for you in this case as way of introduction to this entry. No hard feelings I hope.)

The Bitter Trolley dates back to 2003, when my life had just taken a severe hit, and then I had the greatest high I’ve known, other than the days my children were born. In Aug. 2003 my ex wife and I split, it was her decision and I tried to keep it from happening, but there was no saving the marriage.

In Oct. of the same year I met someone, and she was, well, in a word, amazing.

She was younger than me, a lot, but one of the wisest, funniest and most amazing people I knew then, now or will know.

I was at her apartment, and she asked a question, and when I gave my reply she looked at me, laughing her amazing laugh and said, “Whoa! Whoa! Back the Bitter Trolley out of the station there!”

I laughed and said something to the effect, “Me? Bitter?”

“Oh hell yes, you bitter!” was her reply.

See, it seems I can be quite acerbic and snarky. But I think that only happens when the situation warrants such measures. This, truthfully, is about every 10 minutes in my world.

So from that day forward if I was in a mood, she would tell me the Bitter Trolley was leaving the station, and that I was the conductor. The time I was with her was really the best time of my life as far as understanding love and being happy and committed to someone. I loved her deeply and truly from my heart and soul.

Then I came home from Iraq on leave, and it ended. The worst 14 days of my life. I returned to Iraq for the rest of my tour, but I will admit, the Bitter Trolley was running in Iraq. I got home from that 15 months and resumed life, rebuilding and trying to make sense of what I thought I knew.

But in those dark days, even after it ended between us (again, not my choice and something that still tears me up to this day) I always thought of her and the Bitter Trolley when I found myself in a bad mood.

Well a few months ago something really odd/funny/bizarre happened. I was on Twitter, hadn’t been on long, and someone started tweeting me – mocking me and asking me some really odd questions. As I tried to figure out who this person was (even after looking at the profile, I still did not know who the mystery person could be) I finally asked.

It was HER.

Five years after I last heard from her, five years of missing her and thinking about her, there she was, contacting me again.

Now maybe you are picturing the run through the field, her dressed in white, me in something slimming so I look good, meeting in the field and embracing, me twirling her around as the love theme form Titanic played.

Uh, no.

See, for five years I’d referred to her as “she who shall remain nameless” and did everything I could (quite unsuccessfully) to not think of her. I was hurt.



And yeah, bitter.

But realizing some things that had happened since we last spoke, I had to make a decision right then and there (RIGHT NOW!) – am I going to ignore her now and forever or was I going to respond and see what she wanted and talk to her?

We wound up tweeting until about 3 a.m. We talked long, and openly, we talked on the phone the next day, we laughed, cried and opened our hearts to all that had happened in the last half decade.

And in the first minutes of our first phone conversation in five years she replied to something I said with, “Wow, the Bitter Trolley is still in service I see!”

I laughed so hard it was amazing.

We not only speak now, but are also good friends again, and I care for her as much as ever, even with the knowledge that we won't spend the rest of our lives together. I accept it, sadly, but I do. Better to have her in my life than not, I am a better person for it.

So I am the Bitter Trolley Conductor because of a very special woman, who will always, no matter what, have a very special place in my heart and soul. I don’t think it gets any better than that.

If you’re still on the Trolley, thanks for reading this installment. Next time I’m gonna talk about the relative merits of superhero bedding, and why some are way more interesting than others. I kid, I kid.

Thanks for riding the Bitter Trolley, and please, remember us for
your future travels.