My boyfriend’s play Amusement will have a special preview performance in Toronto before going to Edmonton for its run. Come see it! It’s funny and features this creepy looking raccoon puppet that I made. The show is Saturday, August 10 and 8pm at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Here’s the Facebook Invite.
As work on Moon Devils progresses, I am now somewhere in season three of Star Trek: The Next Generation (thanks Netflix). While initially excited by my own continuing mission to produce a ton of art for the game, the novelty of this show is wearing a bit thin. It is also very very long. Apparently TV shows had 26 episodes a season in those days.
While no one can deny the writers’ capacity for volume, they have definitely gone back to the same well a couple of times by now, most notably in the abrupt plot twists that awkwardly conclude an adventure run long. So in honor of all of us staying up late and looking to clock out, I present this list of Star Trek quick n’ easy endings.
It turns out he was a god – Some innocuous person who has been kicking around the Enterprise is revealed to be an all powerful space god. With a wave of his hands, the damage vanishes and he goes back to whatever space heaven he came from.
It turns out she wasn’t real - An inversion of the space god wrap-up, the featured character turns out to be a ghost, hologram, or figment of the imagination. A few episodes back they served up a double whammy featuring a man who turned out to be a god and his wife who turned out to be a ghost created by his powers.
A teenager fixes everything - The Enterprise crew really comes off badly in these ones. As they are soberly shaking hands and preparing for a fiery death, underaged and unqualified teen dream Wesley Crusher has a brainstorm that solves everything. The crew should have died of embarrassment.
“By Federation law ..” – If people want help from the Federation of Planets, they have to abide by Federation law. This means they basically do whatever hare-brained scheme that pops into Captain Picard’s head. In one notably bizarre invocation, Picard commanded a race of spacefaring Irish people to live with a race of clones under a martial law that dictates that everyone must have unprotected sex with at least three different partners and not get married. Otherwise, tough titties and you’re stranded in space. Is this the future of democracy?
“Fuck Federation law ..” – If the ironclad authority granted by Federation law doesn’t get the job done, fuck it. According to the Federation’s Prime Directive, the Enterprise crew is not allowed to interfere with less developed cultures. There’s always some dithering about this, but they disobey the Prime Directive in every episode where the subject is broached. This presumably generates a mountain of paperwork for some red shirt back at Starfleet HQ.
Speech! Speech! - This is my favorite of the quickie wrap ups. When all else fails, Picard or one of his trusty officers turns a dime and delivers an eloquent, off the cuff speech. These sonorous words have defused armed standoffs, ship battles, angry gods and even bottomless voids. One time Picard even gave a speech in a buzzy bee language, tapping into Patrick Stewart’s deep reserves of gravitas.
So if you’re stuck in a sci-fi story you can’t finish, reach for one of these time tested solutions. I wish I come up with a more poignant wrap up for this little spiel, but you know what? It turns out I’m a ghost.
When the game was first being developed there was no code or visuals, just me. I would visit people with a bottle of wine and a notebook, then talk them through their entire adventure, recording their stats and choices as I went. I always had the hardest time describing the Priestess – “um, she has really big hair, she’s kind of exotic looking, she maybe has psychic powers ..” One astute nerd immediately cut me off and said “oh, she’s like Deana Troi.” Then he wrinkled his nose and said “she sounds useless.”
Well she’s not I tell you. In the game the Priestess unlocks vital health bonuses, unravels the secret of the temple and offers a unique perspective on the world of the game. Also, though there are ways to have sex with all your crew mates, her sex scene is probably the most pleasing in the conventional sense.
There is always some surly malcontent fixing everybody’s tools, or waving a thing around a device around talking about time fluxes or dimensional portals. This character is The Scientist.
In order for the game to work visually I had to keep the characters as streamlined as possible, so I tried to limit the amount of gadgets and tools they used. The Scientist presented a problem as his sweet jumpsuit prevented him from having any tools visible on his person. The solution was his extra bulky glasses and gloves. Thanks to futuristic technology he can use the gloves to scan his surroundings and record his findings.
I had this breakthrough on a beach and was enthusiastically sketching the gloves when a handsome man sat down beside me. He asked me if I found the beach sights “inspiring” and I said “no, not really, but I did figure out something cool about this guy’s gloves ..” After listening for a few minutes he nodded politely and walked over to the next towel. It was only then that it struck me that he might be into me.
Oh well, another potential romance ruined by science fiction. Here he is being eaten by the moon devils.
The Martian is my favorite character to draw. She was initially inspired by the Lisa-Marie’s career defining turn as the Martian Girl in Mars Attacks. I loved Lisa Marie’s balance of sexiness and creepiness. Come to think of it, my adolescence was full of sexy lady characters who were also some sort of horrifying creature.
As the game evolved, she became the warrior character. I started drawing her in more action poses and as I went her body started changing. She became thicker and stockier, less like she was going to confuzzle you with her Martian whiles and more like she would just tackle you and fuck you up.
My boyfriend’s new play “Amusement” is a cartoonish farce about life at Disneyworld. At this point we are so deeply involved in each other’s work / psychosis that it was pretty much a given that I would draw all the props. Topping the list “we need a cat with scabies, and the same cat without scabies.”
I dunno, you meet someone, you fall in love, and one day you find yourself drawing cats with skin conditions.
The Lieutenant is the star of the show and your avatar in the game. I would like to say I put a lot of research into his look, but the look was actually finalized over a decade ago.
In grade one or two all our school notes would go in a different coloured notebook (cahier? Am I thinking of a cahier?). The pink one was a journal where I wrote and illustrated short stories. My friends and I would hang out in a series of shrubs that we pretended were spaceships. My illustration of my friend Brian as our ship’s captain was spot on exactly what I wanted the Lieutenant to look like. Pure white jumpsuit, helmet of hair, super soaker gun.
I’ve just started a long haul project to make a video game. It’s going to be an outer space adventure with some classic science fiction themes and character driven dynamics. So as I settle down on the couch to draw out all the characters and scenarios, what better way to fill the silence than watching Star Trek: TNG from the very beginning? Plenty of better ways, but I’m doing this.
Star Trek is great for drawing because you don’t have to look up that often. Everything is described to you as it happens, and it’s all nonsense. Last night the ship passed through an energy cloud, and a ghost from the energy cloud downloaded itself into the computer. Then it jumped from the computer into the minds of various crewmen until it possessed the captain. Then the captain blasted the rest of the crew with lightning and teleported himself back into the cloud. Then the crew teleported the captain back without the ghost inside him, and he was like “I’m glad that’s over.”
Given these episodes are now 25 years old I thought they’d be totally unwatchable, but the silliness only adds to their charm. I much prefer watching this kind of escapism to a glum Batman questioning his financial solvency. So I’m going to keep watching until I finish these drawings or die of ink poisoning. With that in mind, here’s my initial thoughts ..
Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard – Patrick Stewart is the finest actor in Star Trek history. No matter how crazy the situation, he finds a way to sell it. Possesed by a space ghost? Negotiating with lizard men? Battling the influence of an alien “super-intoxicant”? With impossible gravitas, Patrick Stewart makes it real.
Jonathan Frakes as Commander William Ryker – This character was always a little cardboard for me, standard straight white male hero type. I’d be more into Ryker being played by someone more atypical. But good news, I can see in the promo photos that Jonathan Frakes will steadily gain weight throughout the series, so I’m excited to see the role being tackled by a much fatter man.
Gates McFadden as Doctor Beverley Crusher – With her frank, professional attitude and glamorous red hair, Dr Crusher is my favorite Star Trek doctor. Mostly she waves this little smartphone around people and looks concerned. Did you know Gates McFadden created the choreography for Labrynth?
Brent Spiner as Lt Commander Data – From day one, Brent Spiner skillfully conveys the wonder and mystery of an android learning to be human. When I was a teeanger I really identified with Data, feeling totally out of step with everyone else. Seeing my own mannerisms reflected by a robot was a humbling for me, and watching him develop made me feel proud and hopeful. But here’s the weird thing, every officer who meets him is surprised he’s an android. That is crazy. Not only is he the only android in Starfleet, he has risen to the rank of Lt Commander. Surely that would have been on Federation TV or something.
Denise Crosby as Lt Tasha Yar – With her drive, intelligence and progressive hairdo, it’s easy to see why Tasha Yar was my favorite character back in the day. Her back story is surpisingly dark for Star Trek. She used to be homeless on the shittiest planet ever, and while the details are kept vague, she throws around the term “rape gangs” a lot. She says “rape gangs” once or twice per episode, and never elaborates. When she says it to another officer, they always look sort of awkward and are like “uh .. yeah. That’s terrible.” What the fuck is a rape gang?
Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi – Forget 80s style. Forget sci-fi style. Forget even camp value. Counselor Deanna Troi is a straight up fashion disaster. I can’t even consider the opinion of someone making these choices on a federation starship.
Levar Burton and Michael Dorn as Jr Lts Geordi LaForge and Worf, Son of Mogh – I totally forgot these guys are only Jr Lts when the show starts. So far they’ve just been fixing bulkheads and getting possessed by things.
Wil Wheaton as Random Teen Wesley Crusher - Seeing these early episodes I now understand why fans hate Wesley Crusher. It is really off putting how he easily outsmarts the entire crew, and minces around the bridge in a series of giant sweaters. He was one of my favorites as a kid because of an episode where he falls in love with a shapeshifting alien. Wesley swore he’d love that alien no matter what form it took. I was hoping the alien might turn into a guy and challenge Wesley to go for it, which is as close to a gay role model as I could find. These days everything has changed and you can apparently have gay sex in video games, so fuck Wesley Crusher and all his sweaters.
All in all, Star Trek TNG is a solid viewing choice for the discerning viewer who also has to create a large assortment of digital assets. Who knows what wonders await me on my own continuing mission? According to Netflix, the next episode will feature Wesley Crusher being condemned to die on a planet where people have sex all day. I honestly didn’t make that up, because I can’t imagine anything more thrilling.